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Dennis J. “DJ” Wilson: April 14, 1952-April 20, 2019

April 22, 2019 Featured, Media No Comments

St. Louis lost a great resident on Saturday. Dennis J. Wilson, or simply DJ, lost his fight with cancer. He’d written for numerous publications and worked for East-West Gateway Council of Governments.  For many DJ is best known for his KDHX radio show/podcast ‘Collateral Damage‘.

DJ Wilson hosting Collateral Damage on December 8, 2008.

I’m not an eloquent writer, so I’ll share some words of others.

St. Louis Magazine’s Jeannette Copperman:

More sentimental and sensitive than he’d ever let you guess, DJ was always keenly aware that for most of us, life is hard, and while he might down a few beers and watch a soccer game to forget that fact for a minute, he never tried to pretend or romanticize. He faced brain cancer the same way, reminding me by text of a British colleague who’d announced calmly, after suffering after a soon-fatal aneurysm crossing Grand Avenue, “Something untoward has happened in my head.”

I worked with DJ first at Saint Louis University. So laidback it took a while for his sharp intelligence to hit you, he kept his feet propped on his desk whenever possible, a huge hole visible in the sole of his shoe. He was the first vegetarian I’d ever met, and I was charmed to see that he ate junk food readily; this was principle, not a health crusade. Later, we shared an office at the RFT. One day I was diving into research for a story on shock therapy, and he reached about two-thirds of the way down a stack of old newspapers and clippings that was taller than the divider (the fire department later ordered it dismantled) and located, on the first try, an article on the topic from the late 1970s. He repeated such feats regularly, knew something about everything, steered me to what mattered and called bullshit on what didn’t.

Former 2-term Alderman and new transportation planner Scott Ogilvie:

I’d been a guest on Collateral Damage prior to my February 2008 stroke, once while in the hospital, and numerous times since. For a couple of years there I was either the most frequent guest or in the top 5. I was often his go to person when a guest cancelled, as  I was usually available. A couple of times I was free but couldn’t get to KDHX, DJ came and picked me up in his old Volvo 240 wagon.

Looking back through his Facebook profile he had only one favorite quote:

“Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.” ? George Orwell

St. Louis was a better place because DJ was part of it.

— Steve Patterson


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