Willie J. Young Sr. was born August 8, 1949 in Marvel, Alabama to the late Helen Thomas Young and Jim DL Young. He was the third youngest of eight children.
Following stops in Alabama and West Virginia, his family settled on the East Side of Cleveland in the 1950s. After attending East Tech High School, he went on to study at Bowling Green State University (OH). At Bowling Green, he would receive his bachelor’s and master’s degrees; this is also where he found his passion for helping students.
He worked in different capacities across higher education during his distinguished career. His previous positions at other institutions have included: Vice President of Student Life, Dean of Students, Athletic Director, Director of Student Activities, Assistant Dean in Residence Life and Counselor. During his career, he worked at Defiance College, Mansfield State University, Wittenberg University, Wilberforce University, and finally, The Ohio State University. He started working at Ohio State in 1990, serving as Senior Director of Off Campus and Commuter Student Services since 1998.
He found his passion to help students as a Resident Adviser (RA) in the 1970s and carried that same devotion and passion with him throughout his career. He was famous for his three Ps: “Where you have people, you’re going to have problems, but you also have potential.” A true nod to his outlook on life.
Willie Sr. was active in many organizations (both professional and social), including but not limited to membership at St. Raphael Catholic Church (lector, usher and Eucharistic Minister), Springfield Civic Theater, and H.A.B.I.T.A.T. for Humanity. He was a distinguished BGSU Alumni and received many awards in his time, including 100 prominent BGSU alumni of all time in 2010. He also served as a leader of multiple university professional associations including Association of Student Affairs Professionals, National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and Association of College and University Housing Officers-I. Staying close to his BGSU roots, he had served as BGSU Black Alumni Committee Chair, which he helped found while he was in college. He additionally served as Vice President of the BGSU Alumni Board of Trustees. A person who truly enjoyed other people, he made lifelong friends with many over the years.
He served as an advisor, mentor, and guide to numerous people during his 71 years. If Willie Sr. asked how can he help or how are you? It’s because he genuinely cared. He lost his parents when he was a young man. Because of this, anything that he could do for family or friends in their time of need was his pleasure to do. When colleagues at Ohio State spoke about all the lives he touched, they said that he could fill up the Horse Shoe. For many people, their lives were enriched in multiple ways from knowing him, speaking with him, and observing him. Whenever he was in a room you could feel the love, the knowledge, and familiarity that only a special type of soul would provide. He loved people and never judged the person they were. However, he was always able to see the person they were capable of becoming. One of his sayings was, “Every flower doesn’t bloom on the first day of Spring.” This was part of his view of life. There’s prosperity and beauty in all of us. He was one of the special ones that could see it in each of us.
He is survived by his beloved wife, Dr. Pamela Cross Young and their son, Willie J. Young Jr; his brothers, Earl Jackson and Marvin “Moochie” Young, and sister, Gloria “Pepper” Young; and a host of nieces, nephews, and loving friends.
In lieu of flowers please make a donation to the Second Harvest Food Bank, Springfield, Ohio or H.A.B.I.T.A.T. for Humanity.
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