More than 100 Queen Anne community members gathered to say goodbye to Craig Wilson last Thursday, Feb. 6.
The event filled the basement of Queen Anne Lutheran Church (2400 Eighth Ave. W.). Dozens of community members and local businesses contributed to bring the event together.
Wilson sold his Video Isle store and is moving to Prescott, Ariz. Emcee Arne Zaslove hosted the evening, which included people speaking about and roasting Wilson while he sat on a throne wearing a paper crown.
Ken and Anne Boynton kicked off the event serenading Craig with three personalized songs. Ken sang a ballad about Video Isle, an Elvis-style sing-a-long of “Viva Craig Wilson,” and Anna sang a sad farewell with Irving Berlin’s song “Always.”
Friends told stories about Wilson’s generosity through his work at the Queen Anne Helpline, the Queen Anne Chamber, the Christmas tree lot and various other community organizations and events. Speakers pointed out how much of Wilson’s time was devoted to helping others, even calculating that he must have volunteered a year and a half of his life for those organizations.
A letter from Gov. Jay Inslee was read, thanking Wilson for his “tremendous generosity.”
“A community’s character is defined by its people, and you have been one of the most ardent community leaders and volunteers,” Inslee wrote. “You have helped make Queen Anne special.”
Zaslove spoke about how Wilson bought a car for a mutual friend and bought the Zaslove family its dog. Zaslove returned Wilson’s generosity with a few gifts presented throughout the evening. He gave Wilson his personal dictionary — a reference to their mutual joke about Wilson’s limited vocabulary. He also gave him a cowboy hat and a dress — a reference to the time Wilson cross-dressed for a chamber event.
“I want to thank Craig for being Craig,” Zaslove said. “He was the owner of Video Isle and the owner of Queen Anne.”
Tonya Perfect, Video Isle’s new owner, presented Wilson with the biggest gift of the night: four round-trip tickets to fly back to Seattle, purchased by community members and businesses.
Hossein Soleymani, manager at Homestreet Bank in Queen Anne, said Wilson was his role model and an example of being humble and serving your neighbor.
“I always say, he’s my role model; he’s a brother from another mother,” Soleymani said. “I’m honored to call him my friend for life.”
Queen Anne & Magnolia News sales representative Leilani McCoy reminisced about seeing Wilson at the Helpline’s tree lot on a cold, foggy night. She remembered thinking, “Wow, what a man. Who else cares to be there but Craig Wilson? Who else cares to make Queen Anne a great place to live?”
Queen Anne resident David Silverman razzed Wilson for always watching him work on his house, which is directly behind Video Isle, but never offering to help. Silverman also shared a list of upcoming events for Wilson to look forward to in Prescott. The events — like “The Magic of Manilow,” a gardening class on irrigation and the Rodeo/Fine Arts show — had the audience laughing. He ended his speech by thanking Wilson for driving by and talking with him all of these years.
“We are going to miss you,” he told Wilson. “You are truly an asset to this community.”
At the end of the night, the guest of honor finally got his chance to speak, admitting he’d been thinking about what to say for the last few days.
“I want to thank all of you, truly from the very, very bottom of my heart — not only for the kind things you’ve said this evening but for the life that you’ve helped provide me for the past 20-plus years,” he said. “My biggest and best time of my life has been right here on Queen Anne.”
And what a good life it’s been, Wilson said: With all of the friends he’s made and the organizations he’s been a part of, in a city that he really loves, “this is the very best of all of it.
“I’m going to miss all of you beyond words,” he continued. “I can’t express how sincerely and deeply I love all of you. I want to thank you for your friendship and the many opportunities you’ve given me to be part of your community. It’s now always in my heart: our community.”
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