When Officer James “Jimmy” Wilson pledged to serve and protect, it marked a milestone in Omaha Police Department history. Following the path of his father, who served as a homicide detective, and grandfather, the late Walter Wilson, a 31-year police veteran, Wilson became the only third-generation officer ever on the Omaha Police roster.
Engaged to be married, Officer Wilson was shot in his cruiser following a traffic stop the night of August 20, 1995. He had radioed his location just before two of eight gang members exited the stopped van and opened fire. Officer Wilson had been with the department for 16 months.
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I have been a resident of Blair since I was seven years old. After graduating from Dana in 1976, I interviewed with the Westside School District and was fortunate enough to work for them for the next 33 years. Coaching volleyball, football, basketball and track while raising three kids of our own allowed little free time to produce my own artwork, but I did find time to serve as scenic artist for the Blair High School musicals for 30 years. I also enjoyed working on art pieces that were similar to what my students were doing so that I could share my problem-solving skills with them. I was the recipient of the very generous Phil and Teri Schrager Distinguished Westside Teacher Award for 2002-2003 school year and was awarded the Nebraska Middle School Art Teacher of the year for 2006-2007.
There are always a number of students who standout over a teaching career; Jimmy,with his short, stocky build was one of those unforgettable students. His amazing sense of humor, large grin and caring attitude made him a favorite with the staff. I had the privilege of teaching and coaching Jimmy for three years at Westbrook Junior High and was very humbled to be asked to paint his Horse of Honor. My goal was to capture the distinctive blue uniform of Officer Wilson, knowing very well the glowing warmth that radiated from within through his personality.
Jimmy was killed on August 20, 1995... my 41st birthday. The memories of this “Keg on Legs” will live forever with those of us whose lives he touched.