Phillip Wayne Wierson
May 16, 1935 ~ November 3, 2020
Phillip Wayne Wierson, long-time administrator at Georgia State University, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend, passed out of this life Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020. He died peacefully at his home in Avondale Estates, surrounded by people he loved. He was 85.
Phil is survived by his wife Carolyn, his brother Paul, his daughter Michelle, his son Scott, daughter-in-law Deb, grandson Philip, and granddaughters Haley, Hannah and Taylor, as well as many nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents, John and Celia Wierson, and his brothers Jack and Stan.
Phil was born in Story City, Iowa on May 16th, 1935, where he was raised on the Wierson farm outside of town. He lettered in football, basketball and baseball for Story High, and after graduation attended Luther College. He later graduated from the University of Iowa and taught high school for two years before receiving the NDEA Fellowship at the University of Missouri-Columbia. There he met the love of his life, Carolyn Harris, whom he called “Green Eyes.” After they married in 1963 and he earned his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, they migrated to the south. Phil became a professor at the University of Georgia. In 1967 he was recruited to develop the Counseling Center at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Phil took a fledgling program and built it into a model for colleges and universities across the country. He was known among his colleagues and supervisees as deeply ethical, a fair-minded administrator, and a person who fought for equity and justice. After 25 years as the Director of the Counseling Center, Phil retired in 1992 and returned to the faculty, where he served as a Professor until 1998. For years afterward he had a private practice as a Counselor and consulted for the Social Security Administration. Phil’s professional career spanned over four decades and impacted the lives of thousands of people.
Much as he was dedicated to his work, Phil cared even more for his family. He often commented that becoming a father made him a better person. He and Carolyn welcomed their daughter Michelle in 1966 and their son Scott in 1968, and they were the most important part of his life. Later, when he became a grandfather, he poured his heart into his grandchildren, who called him “Guk Guk.” He was a father and grandfather of warmth, integrity, and fun – lots of fun. He could make a game out of anything.
Phil was an avid sports enthusiast, and played tennis for many years with ALTA. He and Carolyn even went to the Senior Olympics in doubles tennis after he retired. He played golf and tennis regularly, and had a wonderful group of buddies in Gainesville who shared this with him. He was actively involved with Christ Lutheran Church, the Rotary Club of Gainesville, and the LPCA. He loved to travel with Carolyn, and the two of them trekked all around the world together. But his true hobby was people. He was always interested in others, their experiences, their opinions, their concerns. Phil was known for his quick wit and how well he listened to the people around him. He lit up a room when he entered it, and he had a way of making every single person in that room feel special. Even when his disease (Progressive Supranuclear Palsy or PSP) took his ability to communicate verbally, he still made personal connections. He will be profoundly missed by everyone who was lucky enough to know him.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Emory Brain Health Center. Checks should be made to “Emory University” and mailed to Clifton Rd NE, Suite 1400, Atlanta, GA 30322. Please reference Emory Brain Health and “in memory of Dr. Wierson.”
There will be a virtual celebration of Phil’s life at a later time. The family can be contacted at email@example.com for further details.