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Port Lavaca man who died in car crash remembered for 'heart of gold'

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
May 7, 2012 at 12:07 a.m.
Updated May 8, 2012 at 12:08 a.m.

Joseph Lee Wilson, 27, seen at right with his mother, Berlinda Wilson, died at midnight Sunday after veering off state Highway 35 in Calhoun County and striking a tree.

When Joseph Lee Wilson walked out of his mother Berlinda Wilson's Port Lavaca home on Friday, she told him, "Be safe, be careful."

It would be the final words they ever exchanged.

Wilson, 27, spent Friday and Saturday with friends, she said. He planned to drive to meet another friend in Austwell on Saturday night, when his 1998 Lincoln Towncar veered off state Highway 35 and struck a tree about midnight Sunday, a Department of Public Safety official said.

Wilson, originally of Port Sulphur, La., was pronounced dead at the scene by Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4 James Dworaczyk.

"He was the kind of person who had a big heart, a heart of gold, and he helped his family and friends a lot," Wilson's sister, Elda Luera, said. "He was really close with his family and friends, and he always tried to do everything for everybody."

Luera, a registered nurse, said Wilson led a challenged life. He grew up without a father, and served some time in jail.

But for the past several years, he was rebuilding his life, striving to create a strong future for himself and those he loved.

Luera said her brother worked as a certified auto mechanic and structural welder. He was employed as a general mechanic with PMI, a contract engineering company with Alcoa.

"He was trying to better himself ... so he could take care of my mom," Luera said.

Wilson wasn't married, and did not have any children. But he was close to his mother, brother and three sisters, and always made sure their needs were met.

Berlinda said when Wilson noticed she was having weight-related medical issues, he even volunteered to help get her in shape.

"He worked out a lot, he liked to keep his health," Luera said.

"He did P90X and he had his exercise machine outside. He loved tuna fish. He could live off tuna. And he took the pills and drank protein shakes," his mother said.

This weekend, she and Wilson were scheduled to kickoff their mother-son exercise regime.

"He was supposed to go shopping to help me get some things I need to lose weight," she emotionally recalled. "He told me he was going to start walking with me because he wanted me to be around for a long time. He said he would get on the health kick with me."

The sometimes-quiet Wilson was always surrounded by friends and family who knew and loved him.

But he will be remembered for his loud sense of humor, loving presence, and generous heart.

"There are so many things I will remember about the kind of person he was," his mother said. "I love him and I will always love him. He will never be forgotten, and will always be in my heart, forever."

Luera agreed.

"He has the ultimate gift now. He's at peace, he's in heaven and he's with God."



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