First job with Tigers sparked long, prestigious career
DEXTER - Tim Wilson has spent virtually all of his adult life helping kids, for the last 14 years as vice president and director of the Seeds of Peace camp in Otisfield and The Center for Coexistence in Jerusalem, Israel.
He closes out that phase of his professional life next month amid trying times for many of the campers at that southern Maine retreat, given the recent escalation of hostilities between Israel and some of its Middle East neighbors and the fact that Seeds of Peace was founded 1993 on bringing together Israeli, Palestinian and other Middle East teens in the spirit of coexistence.
"It's a tough time for a lot of these kids right now, knowing what's going on back at home," said Wilson from the camp late Monday afternoon.
Wilson's next endeavor seems rather modest by comparison, given the heightened tensions facing many of the youths under his wing this summer.
But in taking over the Dexter High football program - nearly 40 years after leading the Tigers to a pair of state championships during a six-year run from 1966 to 1971 - the 65-year-old Wilson says he is paying a debt of gratitude to a community that helped him get his career started.
"I owe Dexter a lot," said Wilson, whose hiring was announced by new Dexter athletic director Chris Moreau via press release Monday. "I've had this wonderful life, and I know a lot of it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't spent time in Dexter."
Wilson has maintained a variety of ties to the community since leaving to become an assistant coach at the University of Maine in 1972.
He went on to become associate headmaster of Hyde School in Bath, and director of admissions at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield. He also taught language arts and history for more than two decades, and served three Maine governors as chair of the Maine Human Rights Commission, state ombudsman, associate commissioner of programming for the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Corrections, as well as director of the state offices of Community Services, Civil Emergency Preparedness, and Energy.
Since 1993, he has been affiliated with Seeds of Peace, an organization that seeks to foster understanding, respect and tolerance in the Middle East and other regions in conflict by nurturing mutual respect among teenagers. Under his direction, Seeds of Peace programs have expanded to include young leaders from South Asia, Cyprus and the Balkans. Its leadership program now encompasses more than 2,500 young people from 25 nations.
For his efforts, Wilson has received worldwide recognition. In 1997, the late King Hussein of Jordan presented him with a medal of honor. Last month, he was presented the Franklin H. Williams Award, which honors returned Peace Corps volunteers of color who continue the Corps' mission through their commitment to community service. Wilson served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand from 1962 to 1965.
But after 14 years with Seeds of Peace, "I just thought it was time for someone to take over," said Wilson, who suffered a stroke last year.
Wilson inherits a Dexter program that has had just two winning seasons in the last decade and has not finished over .500 since 2001.
Last fall, the Tigers finished 2-7 in the LTC Class C ranks.
"Tim is familiar with Dexter and Dexter's history and the history of the community," said John Parola, chairman of the SAD 46 board of directors, a member of the football coach search committee and an assistant coach under Wilson during his first tenure.
"He doesn't have to go through that familiarity test with the kids and the community, and that's a plus for us. Having been in Dexter before, he also feels some compassion for the school and the program, and that's a plus for us. And he's got a wealth of knowledge and a wealth of experience, not only as a coach but from the interpersonal side with all kinds of people and that's going to be a plus in helping us get the program turned around."
Much has changed since Wilson last coached in Dexter, when he led the Tigers to a share of the 1969 Class C state title with Mexico and a share of the 1970 crown with Winthrop.
The town's milltown identity has been forever changed with the closures of Dexter Shoe Co. and Fayscott, Inc. over the years, and a strong football tradition has been superseded to some extent by a strong schoolboy soccer tradition - Dexter has won two Eastern Maine soccer titles in the last three years.
"It's a different time, with different kids, but I've been working with kids for a long time," said Wilson. "What I really want to do in Dexter, and it isn't about one year, is I want to spend the time to develop a kids' program, a program for kids who really want to play football."
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