Military & Aerospace Electronics correspondent J.R. Wilson has died; wrote for the magazine for 30 years

Dec. 21, 2020
J.R. Wilson also had written for UPI, Jane's Information Group, Aerospace America, Armed Force Journal, Air Transport World, and Signal magazine.

LAS VEGAS -- Longtime Military & Aerospace Electronics correspondent J.R. Wilson, 75, died Saturday 19 Dec. 2020 in a Las Vegas hospital. He had been freelancing for the magazine as western bureau chief since 1992. As a technology journalist he had focused primarily on aerospace, defense, and high technology. He was a resident of Las Vegas, and had been suffering from lymphoma and kidney failure. He had been on respiratory life support since November.

He had been a full-time freelance writer since 1992, when he finished a four-year assignment as North American Group Editor for the United Kingdom-based Jane’s Information Group. In addition to Military & Aerospace Electronics and Jane's Information Group, J.R. Wilson's byline has appeared in Faircount Media Group in St. Petersburg, Fla.; Aerospace Asia/Pacific; Aerospace America; Air Transport World; Armed Forces Journal; C4ISR Journal; Destination Las Vegas; Military Technology; Military Medical Technology; Parlay; PM Network; Sea Power; Signal magazine; Training & Simulation Journal; Unmanned Vehicles; World Dredging; MySAP, WiredLounge.com; and the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce.

He was a 1971 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, Mo., and also attended the California State University-Long Beach College of Business from 1980 to 1983.

J.R. Wilson worked for United Press International (UPI) from 1972 to 1979 in Atlanta, and Tulsa, Okla., where he gained extensive experience reporting on politics, retail and corporate business, crime, natural disasters, civil and criminal trials, entertainment, riots, and energy. He also covered college and professional sports, including NASCAR, NHRA, LPGA, football, hockey, baseball, tennis and even international parachute-jumping. His reporting involved print and radio, as well as some still photography and cable TV news.

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After UPI, J.R. Wilson worked for McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co. in St. Louis from 1979 to 1983 as head of public relations for the space sector. From 1983 to 1986 he held a similar post with defense simulation contractor Cubic Corp. in San Diego. Later he was president and CEO of a small manufacturing firm in San Diego.

For 25 years he wrote a bi-weekly computer magazine column, was creative director and editor-in-chief of Today’s Officer magazine, and created three of the first professional, for-profit magazines exclusive to the Internet: AeroWeb, CompuWeb, and DefenseWeb.

During his life he traveled the world for research and interviews on more than 2,000 articles that have appeared in dozens of international magazines and websites. He authored or co-authored more than 150 books. He covered international air shows in Singapore, Chile, England, and Canada, and reported on airports, airlines, space launch operations, and defense issues in South Korea, Germany, Mexico, French Guiana, and Switzerland.

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In addition to aerospace and defense, J.R. Wilson covered medicine; computers; Las Vegas shows, restaurants, hotels and casinos; homeland security; and personal finance. In 1994 J.R. Wilson launched Pollux Communications.

He had been a member of Toastmasters International since 2013, where he was named Distinguished Toastmaster in August 2016. He also was a member of American Mensa Ltd., Sigma Pi fraternity, Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, J-School Dean Search Committee (1970), Journalism Students Association (1969-71), Miss Mizzou production team (1969), Mizzou chapter representative to 1970 SDX National Convention, and was Editor of J-School student newspaper (1970-71).

J.R. Wilson was born on 5 Oct. 1945 in Ozark, Mo. Survivors include cousins Randy Burnett and Cheri Russell of Ozark, Mo.; his niece Terri Burris of Wadesboro, N.C.; three nephews, Curtis Burris of Clayton, N.C., Stephen Burris of Wadesboro, N.C.; and Scott Burris of Rockingham, N.C.; and his friend Tim Mahon of London. His sister Doris Ricketts of Wedesboro, N.C., preceeded him in death in 2010. He also leaves behind many friends and colleagues who will remember him fondly. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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