by Bryant G. Wood PhD

EXCERPT On April 4, 2012, long time ABR Associate and friend, Dr. Clifford Wilson, went home into glory with our Lord. Dr. Bryant Wood shares his thoughts about Dr. Wilson’s life and ministry.

Australian Clifford Wilson was a dedicated Christian man who was committed to upholding the truth of the Bible.  He was a personal friend and colleague who strongly encouraged me to pursue a career in archaeology.  Cliff had a charismatic personality and was instantly likable.  He was a gifted communicator, serving as a missionary, pastor, educator, public speaker and author.  Cliff served his country in World War II in the Military Forces from October 20, 1941, to December 11, 1942, and as a seaman in the Royal Australian Navy from December 10, 1942, to January 16, 1946.  He went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree (1951) and a Master of Arts in Education (1958) from the University of Sydney, a Bachelor of Divinity from Melbourne College of Divinity (1968), a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Education, with a major in Psychological Services, from the University of South Carolina (1972), and a Master of Religious Education from Luther Rice Seminary (1986).  In 1969, Cliff took part in the excavation of Gezer, Israel, sponsored by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.  He took to the field again in 1996 when he joined the Associates for Biblical Research dig team at Khirbet el-Maqatir, Israel.  Cliff was predeceased by his wife of 54 years, Avis, as well as his second wife of 14 years, Barbara, and his eldest son Bruce.  He had two sons and two daughters by Avis, 13 grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren.

Dr. Clifford Allan Wilson, 1923–2012

I first became acquainted with Clifford Wilson in 1968.  At the time I was a young engineer with General Electric in Schenectady, NY.  I was interested in Biblical archaeology and was looking for a layman’s-level publication on the subject.  A library search revealed that there was such a publication—Buried History, published by the Australian Institute of Archaeology in Melbourne.  I excitedly sent off for a subscription.  Months went by and no magazine, so I sent a letter of inquiry to the Institute, of which Cliff was then director (1967–1970).  I was quite surprised to receive an answer from the director himself explaining the reason why I had not received the magazine (internal difficulties).  After an exchange of several letters, Buried History subsequently arrived in my mailbox.  Then I received notification from Cliff that in 1969 he was to be on an around-the-world tour, involving stops in Israel (to dig at Gezer), England (to visit his son Bruce, among other things) and the United States.  I immediately wrote back to ask if he could possibly come to Schenectady, where I would try to arrange some speaking engagements.  As a result of that offer, I ended up organizing a lecture tour across the entire US!  That was quintessential Cliff.  He had a knack for getting unsuspecting people involved in his visionary projects—but I loved every minute of it!


Tragically, while Cliff was in England, his son Bruce was killed in a train accident.  He called me from England torn between whether to be with his family at this heartbreaking time, or to continue the tour.  I explained that he was booked to speak at numerous churches and schools across the US.  With heavy heart, Cliff bravely decided that God had opened a door of opportunity for him and that he should carry on with the tour.  That decision impacted thousands upon thousands of lives, including the author of this memorial.  Because of his engaging manner, sense of humor and in-depth knowledge of Biblical archaeology, the US tour was an enormous success….


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