We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Simple Cremation
John Long Wilson, “Duke,” was a loving father, a loyal and devoted husband, a friend, and a fly fisherman with a passion for environmental conservation. He peacefully swam into the stream in the sky on June 23, 2022, surrounded by his loved ones in his home in Helena, Montana, at the age of 75.
John was born to John and Jane Wilson on November 7, 1946, in Oswego, New York. He is preceded in death by both parents and his sister, Jennifer Donahue. His older sister, Jane Kretchmann (Clair), lives in Tucson, AZ.
As a young adult in upstate New York, John fostered his passions for hiking, backpacking, fly tying, and fly fishing that would ultimately send him westward. He grew up playing baseball and football, even playing semi-pro ball for a time. John loved racing sports cars at Watkins Glen. John attended SUNY Oswego and graduated with a bachelor’s in Economics.
John came to Montana in the early ‘70s to pursue his dreams of protecting the natural world and catching the biggest fish you’ve never seen. He did graduate work in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana, “earning” his Montana citizenship. While working as Tourism Director for the State of Montana in the ‘80s, John landed his wife, Jan Jamruszka-Wilson, and kept the line tight for over 40 years. Together they had two sons, Jeffrey Wilson of Washington, D.C. and Joel Wilson of Helena, Montana. John imparted to them his love for fly fishing and the environment, his taste in 70s Rock and Reggae music (and air guitar skills), and his unparalleled sense of humor - all in the spirit of his oft-invoked mantra: “Someday is now”.
As an avid outdoorsman and fly fisherman, John dedicated most of his life to the conservation of Montana’s watersheds, wildlands, open spaces, and the ecological integrity of our state. He championed efforts to curtail nuclear power, ban cyanide heap leach mining, protect the Smith River, improve fishing access, and was instrumental in placing over a million acres of Montana land under conservation easement. The pursuit of rivers, wild trout, and bonefish flats cast him worldwide, and he never let his passport expire. John tied flies for friends who used them across the globe and he expressed a desire to just go with them wherever they went.
If you would like to commemorate John and his love for Montana, the family suggests that memorial donations be made to the Montana Land Reliance, the Missouri River Fly Fishers Chapter of Trout Unlimited, or the Pat Barnes Missouri River Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
At John’s request, a memorial service is being planned in the future on the Big Hole River to commemorate his passing.