Opa’s House is named in honor of owner Robert Wilson’s father, Joseph Robert Wilson. Joe, and his wife, Sue, were affectionately known as “Oma” and “Opa” – which is German for Grandma and Grandpa – reflecting the many years the family lived abroad in Vienna, Austria.
A man of high moral standing, Opa received his commission at Annapolis and served his country in the US Navy during World War II and the Korean War. He earned his B.S. and Master’s degrees in mechanical engineering at K.U. and had a long and notable career, culminating in his diplomatic work with nuclear safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. He was the Section Head of Procedures for the Far East Division, the highest ranking American in Safeguards Operations, where he received the Distinguished Service Award, and was recognized for his contributions resulting in the Agency earning the Nobel Peace Prize. He served for seven years as the Chairman of the American International School Board, and the moderator of the Vienna Community Church.
Opa was active in Masonry, and was the first American Master of the Lodge in Vienna, and was awarded Mason of The Year in Kansas. Following his official retirement, he continued to work on numerous community projects, helped establish and run a much needed daycare, and worked as a volunteer tax preparer for AARP. He was honored with the Lenexa Community Service Award in 1992 and inducted into the Volunteer Hall of Fame.
Opa taught his children strength of character, the importance of integrity, and love of one’s God and country by practicing all of these things in every aspect of his own daily living. He encouraged his children to strive for their dreams through hard work and dedication, provided constant and unwavering emotional support, and served as the bedrock upon which his family thrived. He was a pillar of the community, but more importantly, he was a hero to his children in every sense of the word.