Sing Out about
this UNsung Woman
Sponsored by ArtRoots,
a Writer in Residence Project
January to June 2022
Morning Glory Muffins
During the month of May, a great deal of us plan special events to honor our mothers. This May, I’d like to channel my inner bird and sing a bit about a very special woman who has been a mother to this community. Her name is Diane Wilson and you may or may not know her. She is the co-founder and previous co-owner of the legendary Wilson’s Coffee & Tea located at 3306 Washington Ave. in Racine, WI. Diane and her late husband Robin, along with the help of their children, began Wilson’s in 1991 with an ambition to provide a welcoming space for the community to gather, converse, and enjoy quality drinks and food.
A few of us lucky folks have the honor to know Diane, but to many, she’s the quiet, busy-bee, buzzing about the coffee shop tackling duty after duty. She knows the ins and outs of every inch of their building. Even after retiring and passing the business along to her children, she still willingly assists in the completion of daily tasks. You can find her in the shop’s kitchen during the wee hours of the morning baking amazing sweet treats like her famous morning glory muffins. She is also the master chai tea maker, one of Wilson’s staple go-to drinks. She’ll tidy up the sitting area, package coffee, and any other task that may need doing.
Diane’s love goes into all she does.
The first ten years of running Wilson’s wasn’t all that easy. Both Diane and Robin took on triple duty as parents, full-time nurses in Milwaukee, and co-owners of a coffee shop. All hands went in on building their new life. The older children worked the shop when they weren’t in school and the youngest child was tasked with having dinner ready for the family when they came home. Diane admits to running herself ragged.
She told me, “Music kept me sane through all of this.” You see…there’s yet another layer of awesomeness to Diane. She’s been a lifelong lover and practitioner of music. She began as a child playing piano and clarinet. Since then, she’s taught music and has played in the Racine Concert Band, the Milwaukee Pops, and UW-Milwaukee symphonic band. She still plays, but no longer with any group.
When I asked her some of her favorite things about owning a coffee shop she replied, “It’s always interesting to me to see individual customers coming in and after a while they’re sitting with others. Sisters, neighbors, colleagues all come to meet at Wilson’s.” She continues, “I’ve always been a good listener and I could read body language as a nurse. I could tell when someone was having a bad day and I would talk to them. It gave me confidence as a shy person to become more social.”
A mother has many superpowers, but perhaps the most outstanding superpower is the one to give birth. Diane has been a mother to three of her own children, but also a mother to our community. She’s helped us understand the importance of space and human interaction. Diane Wilson deserves every big of our singing. Happy Mother’s Day!
By Jeanne Arnold
Little Black youngsters held hands and followed their pre-school teacher up the escalators with a helping adult plus me bringing up the rear. Quiet. Careful. Alert to what was ahead, they and I listened to the teacher on how to enjoy the butterflies and how to protect them.
As soon as I entered the exhibit, I was greeted by an exotic species that perched on my shoulder. I heard wings flutter at my ear as they settled on me. I felt peaceful.
In awe of their curious and cautious attitude, I watched some children enjoying butterflies landing on them; others startled, thinking of biting insects, bees, hornets. This class of bright blue t-shirt-clad Black children stood in a circle with wide eyes on their brown and tan faces, black hair with many of the girls having braids decorated with multi-colored barrettes and beads. Their adults standing in their midst were calm, confident and involved with their thigh-high charges.
Other smaller circles of families clustered there too. It was a human garden of our species.
When I sat to rest on a bench, a large monarch lighted on my shoe. A child sitting next to me watched it too. A dimpled, dark-haired white boy with happy black eyes and a generous smile moved closer to see it and I said quietly, “Please do not to disturb it. It thinks I am a flower.”
I want to share a rainbow with you
a rainbow spanning across the moist,
warm air from the turbulent spring
wind-swept lake bordered
by the fresh, new green grass,
greener than Easter-basket-grass green,
but alive—alive as I feel,
full of newness, full of life, full of colors,
broad and rich as the lush, double,
perfect rainbow that I want to share with you.
Graphics by Mary Nelson
UNsung Women: the UN-known Herstory History
Loreen Greene Mohr and Samiera Gdisis and now Diane Wilson are our UNsung woman for March, April & May. Nominate more UNsung women to be selected for June, 2022.
Submit written nominations about past or present women from Racine/Kenosha whose contributions to the wellbeing of our families, churches, schools, communities and beyond who have not or have been UNderacknowledged.
The nominator is asked to provide:
• answers to Who, What, When, Where, How and Why details of your nominee’s herstory in a document or resume format.
• photographs, drawings, illustrations to enhance herstory;
• a reference person or documentation serving as evidence of proof.
Submit your nomination details to <email@example.com> with your name and where you may be reached.
Please do not nominate women who have already been “sung.”