John Alan Wilson who was born on May 24, 1942 in Bakersfield, California, passed away peacefully in his sleep on October 9, 2019. He was 77 years old.
John was a lifetime Kern County resident. He grew up on a cotton farm and attended Rio Bravo-Greeley School, and then graduated from Bakersfield High School. He went on to graduate from Fresno State University with a BS degree in agriculture, but due to a passion in photography, pursued a 54 year career as a master photographer in Kern County. He founded and owned both John Wilson Photography and Vintage Motorsports Photography.
An avid race car enthusiast, John started his photography career in 1965 as a race car photographer and thus spent many years snapping well sought out vintage photographs of racing events throughout the country. Most recently, he was inducted into the Legends of Riverside Motorsports Hall of Fame. He enjoyed meeting new people everywhere he went and was a fascinating fact and story teller to his captivated audiences.
John was a friend to many and a well known member of the community of Bakersfield having photographed thousands of family portraits, weddings, high school senior portraits, and school formal events. He enjoyed mentoring students of various high school key clubs, was a member of Lutheran Church of Prayer, and was active in the Model T Ford Club, the Golden Empire Kiwanis, and the Kern Audubon Society. He enjoyed volunteering his time organizing the Kiwanis annual Fall Fling Car Show and taking photographs for Tigerfight Foundation.
John was a courageous friend and family man. He was interested in his family heritage and enjoyed sharing facts and pictures of the scenic views of his ancestors. He enjoyed spending time in his beautiful garden in Bakersfield and in Novato, CA with his wife Irene Valos. He enjoyed watching his brother Craig’s bluegrass band; attending numerous racing events with his daughter, son, grandchildren, and photography buddies; and going backpacking with his family and friends. In addition, “Papa,” a title he wore proudly for 26 years, John cheered along and snapped photographs at sporting and performing arts events for his children and grandchildren. Never one to complain, not many knew about his 15-year battle with cancer because of his positive attitude and courageous smile. He is survived by his loving family including wife Irene Valos, son Chris Wilson (Holly) and daughter Lisa Cooper (Joe) from his first marriage (Marilyn); grandchildren Jaelyn, Joey, Chance, Cade Cooper, Jared Hunt, and Alex, Lauren, and Ryan Wilson; step-daughter Paula Plessas-Hall (Bryan), step-son Peter Plessas; and step-granddaughters Lexi, Eavy, and Demi Hall.
He is also survived by his brothers Mike and Craig Wilson and numerous nieces, great nieces, and great-nephews.
He is preceded in death by his beloved parents Paul and Jean Wilson. Services are scheduled to take place on October 19, 2019 at Lutheran Church of Prayer at 11:00 a.m, 8001 Panorama Drive, followed by a graveside service at Hillcrest Memorial Park, 9101 Kern Canyon Road.