Cover photo for Kayo Wilson's Obituary
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1939 Kayo 2022

Kayo Wilson

January 5, 1939 — January 8, 2022

St. George, Utah

Kayo Bert Wilson was born January 5, 1939, in Payson, Utah, to Woodrow and Jerry (Deaver) Wilson.  He attended Peteetneet Elementary School, Payson Junior High School and Payson High School. He was married to Constance Sue Staheli Wilson June 6, 1970.   He died in Saint George, Utah, January 8, 2022, at the age of 83.

He is  survived by his wife Sue; two sons Legion Byron (Brooke) and Levi Woodrow; and three grandchildren – Skyler Kayo, Cashion Kayo and Quinn Constance.

He is preceded in death by his parents and younger brother James (Jim) R. Wilson (Connie).

The following was written by Kayo for his 50th class reunion:

Kayo Bert Wilson – A Short Story  1957-2003

1957:  Graduated from Payson High School, moved to Salt Lake City and started college at the University of Utah.

1962:  Graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in mechanical engineering.  Accepted a position at Hercules Corporation located at Bacchus, Utah, on the Minuteman and Polaris Missile Systems.

1966:  Moved to Cape Canaveral, Florida, to work for NASA at Cape Kennedy launch complex 34/37 on the first Apollo Space Program.

1969:  Decided to join the Navy, not accepted, guess too old or too dumb.  Traveled across the US looking for lost treasures.  Didn’t find anything of great value.  Ended up back in Payson.

1970:  Saw the best pair of Levi jeans I had ever seen and married what was in them, Sue Staheli.  When I went up to Sue’s house to talk to her dad about marrying her, he asked me why I wanted to marry her.  Of course, I did not tell him the part about the Levis.  I told him I had just spent the best part of a year looking for lost gold mines and buried treasure, which was true, without success.  I said that marrying Sue might change my luck since she had a dad that had spent most of his life looking for gold himself.  He accepted that reasoning and my request to marry Sue.

Off we went on a 30 day, 20 state honeymoon in an R10 Renault.  For those of you who don’t know what kind of a car that was, it was small and we didn’t yet realize just how small.  Since the seats would recline, we slept in the car about every third night to save money.  I could tell after about 20 days that Sue’s mood was changing.  We were only 1000 miles from Payson when I pulled into a rest stop in the middle of hot, windy, dusty Texas.  Sue was getting out of the car when the wind blew the door back against her leg and knocked her back into the car.  Crying and mad, she EXPLAINED to me that she would walk to Payson before she would ever sleep another night in that car.  We stayed in a motel that night!  When we finally got home, we decided to stay together because we both agreed nothing could be worse than what we had just gone through.

1971:  Joined the American Oil Company as the Industrial Engineer for Utah, Idaho and Nevada.

1972:  Transferred to Chicago as Product Manager for motor oil additive development in the US.

1974:  Our son Legion, named after the Legions of Rome, was born.  Exciting times were about to begin.

1976:  Our son Levi was born on January 1st.  He was the Bicentennial baby in our area and received many gifts that were very useful to him at the time – chain saw, power tools, lawn equipment and money.  Needless to say, I took good care of all those items for him.

1977:  Getting tired of the cold Chicago weather, I took the opportunity at a party one night to ask my boss for a transfer back out west.  Six months later we arrived in Tokyo, Japan.  He later joked that Japan was as far west of Chicago as he could send me.  I spent the next four years working with our agents in Hong Kong, Pakistan, India, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia and Japan.  I spent a lot of time traveling and felt lucky our children were young and I had an understanding wife.

1981:  We were transferred to Hong Kong.  The difference between Japan and Hong Kong was big.  The Japanese obeyed all laws; the Chinese obeyed none or so it seemed to me.  I fell in love with Japan, Sue with Hong Kong.  Our first year there I was called to jury duty, of all things.  That was an interesting experience, to say the least.

1983:  The American Oil Company had become known as Amoco and my division was made an independent company within Amoco.  In August, we were transferred to St. Louis, Missouri.  Sue became involved in the school system while trying to integrate our two sons, who were only 1 and 3 years old when they left the US, into American culture.  While in Missouri (pronounced Missoura) I had a memorable haircut.  While at the local barbershop, the barber asked me where I was from and I, like a fool, said Utah.  He stopped cutting my hair, moved to the front of the barber chair, looked me in the eyes and said, “I thought we ‘all kicked u’all outa here long ago.”  I looked back at him and said, “GUESS WHAT, WE’ALL BACK AGAIN.”  I have had better haircuts, especially after I told the barber that I had also just moved from Japan.

1992:  My company had been renamed again, Amoco Petroleum Additives, and was in the process of being sold to Texaco.  All employees were invited to Houston, Texas, to meet our new working associates and see where in the area we might want to live.  They were a great bunch and I accepted a position with them.  We put money down on a house and everything seemed ok.  The day before we were to return to St. Louis, we were all informed that the deal had fallen through and Amoco had backed out.  We were able to cancel the contract on the house with just a small loss.  I decided to retire from Amoco and did.  Amoco then sold the company to the Ethyl Corp., in Richmond, Virginia.  I was persuaded to accept a job with Ethyl and a month later we had sold our Missouri house and moved to Virginia.  Our son Legion had graduated from high school and stayed in St. Louis.  Our son, Levi, remained with us.

1993:  We built a house in Richmond, Virginia, and settled in.  Sue embarked on a yard improvement program.  She single handedly placed 8 tons of softball sized rocks side-by-side making designs around our yard.  It took a year for the calluses to go away.  I did help.  I directed the trucks where to dump the rocks.  She mentioned to me a couple of times that she did not think the division of labor was fair and, of course, I agreed with her after she was finished.  Our son Levi did not adjust well to this move so we sent him back to Missouri to live with a friend and finish high school.

1997:  We were still in Virginia and enjoying the wonderful scenery and history of that great state.  The kids had now moved to Colorado to attend the Colorado Institute of Art in Denver.  They are still living in Colorado at this time.

1999:  I retired from Ethyl.  Sue and I spent 30 days, in a big car this time, traveling around the country, staying in motels (not the car!) while trying to decide where we wanted to live.  We ended up deciding on St. George, Utah.  We sold our house in Richmond and Sue moved in with a friend since she was still working.  I moved to St. George to live in an 8’ X 27’ trailer while trying my best to find a house already built that would fit our needs.  I did not want to build.  I was not successful, so the house I had designed on my computer to fit the lot we had purchased the year before, became the house we built.  Sue retired from her job in Virginia and moved into the trailer with me for another 6 months while the house was being built.  Like the Renault story, this was another experience we do not want to repeat.  She has mentioned to me several times when I bring up the subject of taking the trailer out somewhere to fish or see nature, that she never wants to sleep in that trailer or a Renault again, EVER.  That is why the trailer sits beside our house in the special parking area I built for it.  I use it now for the storage of my artificial flowers and plants that I use to replace those that disintegrate in the St. George, summer sun.  More importantly, our first grandchild, Skyler, was born 9-1-1999.

2001-2002:  I settled into retirement immediately this second time.  I like being able to do what I want when I want and taking as much time to do it as I want.  I must say though, it depends on if Sue is home watching what I do.  Sue, on the other hand, has embarked upon another great adventure, as usual.  She wrote a detailed plan to improve the K-3 reading skills in the Washington County School District.  The plan was accepted by the federal government and has been so successful that it has now become a model for other school systems within the state and is being considered by other states.

2003:  As I sat down this morning, Saturday, February 1, to finish this history, I saw the Columbia disaster unfold on TV.  It was apparent within minutes that there could be no survivors.  With tears in my eyes it took me back to another fateful day, January 27, 1967, when I was at Cape Kennedy’s Launch Complex 34 during the last simulated test of our first manned moon flight.  Astronauts Grissom, Chaffee and White were running simulated flight tests in the Apollo spacecraft.  I left the Cape at 6 p.m. on that day and as I entered my apartment 15 minutes later, the phone was ringing.  It was my night crew at the Cape.  They said I should return immediately; there was an emergency.  When I got back, the Cape was locked down - no one in, no one out.  I spent most of the night watching TV waiting for news of what happened, then I heard that all three astronauts were dead.  This 1st day of February 2003, is like the 27th of January 1967 for me, not a good way to start any year.

A celebration of Kayo’s life will be at the Payson City Cemetery, Payson, Utah, at a date to be determined in the future.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Kayo Wilson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life to be held at a later date

Payson City Cemetery

, Payson, UT 84651

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