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Davis Journal

Jan Wilson: An unusual ‘new’ pioneer

Jun 07, 2021 01:57PM ● By Cali Garrity

Jan at 97 with her great grandson Holden Manning in front of the Anchorage Visitor’s Information Center, the “Log Cabin,” where she volunteered for decades. Photos courtesy of Diana Wilson Wing

BOUNTIFUL—Julianna “Jan” Davis Wilson is one of Utah’s newest residents. Jan moved to Utah at the age of 98 having lived in Alaska for most of her life. She has lived an extraordinary life from being an attorney, volunteering at hospitals and working in the Navy and now resides at Creekside Senior Living in Bountiful.

She has always lived a busy life and doesn’t let anything stop her including her age. From first impression it would be hard to guess that this vibrant lady is almost 100 years old. Her birthday is June 16. 

Having grown up in Florida, Jan had no idea that she would be living in Alaska in the near future. She moved to North Carolina to attend college where she met her future husband, T. Stanton “Stan” Wilson. Jan went on to serve in the Navy but continued to write letters to Stan for six years. She was stationed in San Francisco working as a WAAC (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps). 

They eventually got married and traveled down to Texas to meet his family. They then went on to Florida to meet her family as well. Stan decided to attend law school in Florida and Jan decided to do the same. 

“There were no more than four or five women in my class,” Jan recalls. It was very rare at the time for women to go into law, but she really just went as a way to be with her husband. They both graduated from law school and took the long Alaskan highway to go work for a law firm in Anchorage.

While Stan homesteaded in Kenai, Jan worked at a different firm as a secretary while living in a boarding house. Eventually the owner of the firm was selected to become a territorial judge and the position of owner of the firm was open. The owner, J.L. McCary Jr., saw potential in Jan and asked her to take over the firm. She was hesitant and reserved at first but eventually accepted the offer. 

She and her husband opened up their own firm together on 4th Avenue, but a devastating earthquake at Easter time in 1964 destroyed it. 

One happy memory she recalls was in 1959 when Alaska became the 49th state. 

“We had a slogan of 49-59 to represent the year and being the 49th state,” she said. “A huge American flag was brought out and everyone was so excited.”

During her time in Alaska, Jan did volunteer work for many different organizations. She worked in the Women’s Service Club, Alaska Regional, Log Cabin Information Center, and Local Visitors Bureau. She has been a lifelong member of the Women’s Post 21 of the American Legion and she is listed in the Military Women’s Memorial in Washington, D.C. as well as the Bountiful Veterans Park.

Jan was recognized for her 60 years of service in 2015 when she was awarded with the National Frist Humanitarian Award. 

While Jan’s husband passed away in 1997, she is survived by her two children, five grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. She has touched many lives and continues to impact everyone around her.