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UH System Mourns Former Chairman and Storied UH Alum Welcome Wilson Sr.


Welcome Wilson Sr., the long-time Houston real estate developer and former chairman of the University of Houston System Board of Regents, sadly passed away on Friday, Feb. 16.

Wilson was chairman of the Welcome Group LLC., a highly successful conglomerate of companies that own and lease commercial facilities across the United States. Wilson’s early projects in the 1950s and 60s were the master-planned communities of Jamaica Beach and Tiki Island, which are now cities in Galveston County.

A proud and esteemed alum of the University of Houston, Wilson received the UH Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1970, the UH Bauer College of Business Distinguished Alumni Award in 1996 and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 2013. Moreover, he served as chairman of the University of Houston System from 2007 to 2010, tirelessly advocating for the four universities’ goals before legislators and helping drive the University of Houston to Tier One status. Other notable achievements included helping to establish the University of Houston’s Jack J. Valenti School of Communication and being a member of the Board that hired Renu Khator, chancellor of the University of Houston System and president of the University of Houston.

“Welcome Wilson was a true titan whom I was honored to work with and humbled to call a friend,” said Khator. “The personal guidance he gave me was invaluable and his support for the UH System and UH laid the foundation for the success that our students and community reap today and will for years to come.”

“Welcome was a pillar of the community who exemplified the heart of a leader,” added UH System Chairman Tilman J. Fertitta. “He had an incredibly successful business and service career and, while he could have sat on his laurels, he used his success to support education and the university he loved. The work he did for the UH System and throughout his life left a legacy of excellence. As the current chairman, I’m walking in the footsteps of a giant.”     

Welcome Wilson sitting on bench on UH campus
Welcome Wilson Sr. served as chairman of the University of Houston System from 2007 to 2010.
Wilson recieving honorary degree from UH president Renu Khator.
Wilson earned an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from UH in 2013.

Wilson, who received his bachelor of business administration degree from the University of Houston in 1949, was an original UH Frontiersman — an on-campus organization that spreads school spirit and support for UH in numerous endeavors. He found love on campus and married his college sweetheart on the day he graduated from UH. In the 1950s and 60s, Wilson served in the Executive Office of the President under Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy and witnessed the atom bomb test in Nevada and the hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. In 1958, he was awarded the Arthur Fleming Award as One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men in Federal Service. Later, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him as Special Ambassador to Nicaragua.

A man with a storied career, Wilson was also chairman of two Houston banks and a New York Stock Exchange company, and he once owned 10% of the Houston Astros baseball team and served on its board of directors. He has received numerous honors for his achievements, including induction into the Texas Business Hall of Fame and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Houston Business Journal.

Upon his passing, he was director emeritus of the Greater Houston Partnership, having served as its higher education committee chairman for many years, and chairman of the UH Political Action Committee. Wilson will be sorely missed by the entire UH System community.

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