Herb Wilson, who was presented our "Block P" award last fall for creating a scholarship for band students, never "technically" marched on a football field in an AAMB uniform or sat on a Purdue concert stage.
"Never in the band? That's not quite true. I was always with the band in spirit. I was there. It was just a best kept secret," says Wilson with a smile in his voice. Five years ago, the Herbert and Janice Wilson "Band Student Leader" scholarships were created to reward drum majors and office heads of the various student run offices in the band. The couple also gives out five "Band Students in Engineering Scholarships" annually - and their foundation will continue to award these scholarships for decades to come.
Wilson admits he played the trumpet a bit as a kid, and says he's always loved music, but his gift to Purdue is more about rewarding volunteerism."I love volunteerism. I salute everything the band does. They're a very dedicated group who give of themselves day in and day out with nothing to gain. I truly admire their dedication. A lot of people say 'me, me, me' and it's nice to see kids give of themselves," he says. "I think that should be rewarded."
Wilson, a retired CEO with Micro-Surface Finishing Products, enjoys volunteering himself. In February 2002 he and his wife spent two weeks in India as Rotary International volunteers administering polio shots to youngsters as part of the group's effort to eradicate that disease.
Before retirement, Wilson carved out a great success story that began with his degree from Purdue. The Chicago native was in the Navy when he applied to come to Purdue, and "it was the best thing that ever happened to me," he says. From here he went to the University of Chicago to obtain an MBA then worked in various engineering jobs in the steel industry in the United States and Canada. One took him to Iowa in 1973, a state he and his wife loved so much they wanted to make it home. He bought into Micro-Surfacing in 1980 when the business was in its infancy. "It had three employees and we built it up 20 times from when I got it. I identified opportunity and went for it," Wilson says.
Micro-Surface makes a fine abrasive product used to produce "exquisite" surfaces on everything from jewelry to crank shafts. "Ever been in an airplane with bad windows? With our micro-mesh you can work on those panels and make them optically perfect again," he says.
"My advice to young people is to work hard and work smart, and to have fun," he says. "If you're not having fun, do something else. I decided at an early age if I was not having fun, I was not going to do it and it was one of the better decisions I've ever made."