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Ray F. Wilson

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Information about Ray F. Wilson

Profile image of Ray F. Wilson

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Construction Entrepreneur
Chemistry Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Vegetables
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Anywhere
Favorite Quote:
If You Don't Work, You'll Steal.

Birthplace

Born:
2/20/1926
Birth Location:
Giddings, Texas

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Construction Entrepreneur
Chemistry Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Vegetables
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Anywhere
Favorite Quote:
If You Don't Work, You'll Steal.

Birthplace

Born:
2/20/1926
Birth Location:
Giddings
See how Ray F. Wilson is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Chemistry professor, construction entrepreneur, and lawyer Ray Floyd Wilson was born on February 20, 1926, in Giddings, Texas to Beulah and Fred Wilson. As a young boy, Wilson worked with his family in the fields and with the livestock while going to school. Wilson was drafted by the U.S. Navy in 1944, before he could attend college. He went to submarine school and served in World War II in the Pacific Theater. While in the Navy, Wilson achieved the rank of petty officer third class. After graduating with his B.S. degree in chemistry and math from Samuel Huston College in 1950, Wilson was awarded his M.S. degree in chemistry and math in 1951 from Texas Southern University (TSU). Subsequent to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1950 decision in Sweatt v. Painter, Wilson was the first African American student to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry and math from the University of Texas at Austin in 1953.

After he received his Ph.D., Wilson joined the TSU Faculty in Houston as an associate professor of chemistry. Rising to the rank of full professor in only four years, Wilson continued to teach at TSU for forty-two years, turning down various offers from other universities and research centers. Wilson authored eighty-three different articles that have appeared in national or international scientific journals. He has been a longtime member and president of the TSU chapter of the Texas Association of College Teachers, and mentored many students.

While working as a professor, Wilson started working as a part-time real estate broker in the 1960s. By the 1970s, he owned and operated his own contracting company and was awarded many major public works contracts in Houston over a period of three decades. In 1972, Wilson received his J.D. degree from TSU, graduating with the highest GPA in the school’s history. Wilson used his degree to do pro bono work for his church, his community and his own interests. After moving to Houston, Wilson was an active member of the Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ where he oversaw the Sunday school and church credit union.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Wilson served as a Congressional Counselor to the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, the first African American female from a southern state to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Congressman Mickey Leland. Wilson retired from TSU in 1999.

Ray Floyd Wilson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 11, 2007.

Wilson passed away on June 10, 2015.

See how Ray F. Wilson is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ray F. Wilson's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ray F. Wilson lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ray F. Wilson describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ray F. Wilson talks about the cowboys of Texas
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ray F. Wilson remembers his paternal great-aunt, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ray F. Wilson remembers his paternal great-aunt, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ray F. Wilson describes his mother's education and activities
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ray F. Wilson describes his father's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ray F. Wilson describes his father's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ray F. Wilson recalls his experiences of discrimination at the University of Texas at Austin
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ray F. Wilson describes his parents' personalities
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ray F. Wilson describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ray F. Wilson describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ray F. Wilson describes the Jim Crow laws in Texas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ray F. Wilson talks about Superintendent David Everett
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ray F. Wilson remembers picking cotton
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ray F. Wilson describes his grade school experiences
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ray F. Wilson remembers Giddings Colored High School in Giddings, Texas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ray F. Wilson remembers being drafted into the U.S. Navy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ray F. Wilson recalls his role as a U.S. Navy steward in World War II
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ray F. Wilson talks about his success as a gambler
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ray F. Wilson talks about his higher education
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ray F. Wilson describes his experiences at the University of Texas at Austin
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ray F. Wilson remembers joining the faculty of Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ray F. Wilson talks about his career in real estate
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ray F. Wilson remembers teaching at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ray F. Wilson talks about his chemistry research
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ray F. Wilson reflects upon his research methods
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ray F. Wilson talks about his work as a government contractor
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ray F. Wilson describes his career in real estate and construction
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ray F. Wilson describes his other academic interests while a professor of chemistry
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ray F. Wilson recalls his students at Texas Southern University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ray F. Wilson describes opportunities at Texas Southern University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ray F. Wilson talks about his wife
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ray F. Wilson remembers U.S. Representatives Barbara Jordan and Mickey Leland
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ray F. Wilson talks about the Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ in Houston, Texas
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ray F. Wilson describes his home in Houston, Texas
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ray F. Wilson reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ray F. Wilson reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ray F. Wilson describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ray F. Wilson describes his advice to African American youth
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ray F. Wilson reflects upon his career
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ray F. Wilson describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ray F. Wilson narrates his photographs