June 7, 2004: Headlines: COS - Jamaica: Obituaires: Philadelphia Inquirer: Jamaica RPCV William H. Wilcox dies at 84

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Jamaica: Peace Corps Jamaica : The Peace Corps in Jamaica: June 7, 2004: Headlines: COS - Jamaica: Obituaires: Philadelphia Inquirer: Jamaica RPCV William H. Wilcox dies at 84

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Jamaica RPCV William H. Wilcox dies at 84

Jamaica RPCV William H. Wilcox dies at 84

Jamaica RPCV William H. Wilcox dies at 84

William H. Wilcox, 84; pushed for change in city

By Sally A. Downey

Inquirer Staff Writer

William H. Wilcox, 84, a social activist who led changes and development in the city as head of the Greater Philadelphia Movement and who later worked for state and federal government agencies, died May 21 of complications from surgery at Hospice of the Valley in Scottsdale, Ariz.

From 1954 until 1971, Mr. Wilcox served as executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Movement, a civic-action group made up of Philadelphia company executives formed in the late 1940s in response to corruption in city government. During Mr. Wilcox's tenure, the organization spearheaded the development of Society Hill and the building of the Food Distribution Center and helped remove a discredited school board in 1965.

From 1971 until 1977, as state secretary of community affairs in Harrisburg under Gov. Milton Shapp, Mr. Wilcox initiated rural housing programs and weatherization programs for low-income homeowners and headed the relief activities after Hurricane Agnes in 1972. He also created controversy when he refused to distribute state grants to communities that practiced exclusionary zoning, which he said "subsidized discrimination."

In 1977, he was appointed energy consultant to the Department of Housing and Urban Development by President Jimmy Carter and the following year became head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In the early 1980s, he was an assistant to U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter.

In 1983, his son, Gregory, said his father ended his career in public service by doing "something typically unexpected and adventurous."

He joined the Peace Corps and served in Jamaica for two years. He later wrote about his experiences and published a guide to hiking trails in Jamaica's Blue Mountains.

Mr. Wilcox grew up in Wilkes-Barre and on Long Island and earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Connecticut, where he met his future wife, Madeleine Watt. They married in 1942. During World War II, he was a bombardier in the Army Air Corps and flew missions over Southeast Asia.

After his discharge, he earned a master's degree from Wayne State University in Detroit.

His son said that, while working in Philadelphia, his father lived in Merchantville and in Moorestown. He then moved to Fairfax, Va., when he worked in Washington. He had lived in Arizona since 1992.

Mr. Wilcox's wife died in 1988. In addition to his son, he is survived by a daughter, Robin Wilcox; and a sister.

A memorial service was private.

Memorial donations may be made to Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park, 4619 E. Washington St., Phoenix, Ariz. 85034.
Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.

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Story Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Jamaica; Obituaires



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