Mary Wilson to receive UB’s Norton Medal

Mary Wilson, wife of the late Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson and a strong advocate for Western New York for the past 29 years, will be awarded the Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal, the University at Buffalo's highest honor.

The medal is presented annually in public recognition of a person who has, in Norton’s words, “performed some great thing which is identified with Buffalo … a great civic or political act, a great book, a great work of art, a great scientific achievement or any other thing which, in itself, is truly great and ennobling, and which dignifies the performer and Buffalo in the eyes of the world.”

Announcing this year’s Norton Medal recipient, Jeremy Jacobs, chair of the UB Council and Delaware North, said that Wilson richly deserves the honor for her longstanding commitment to the region.

“This year, we were absolutely unanimous in our decision to honor Mary Wilson,” he said. “In her leadership of the Wilson Foundation, Mary is making an enduring and unprecedented impact on Buffalo and all of Western New York, which will be felt for many generations to come. Her dedication and work align perfectly with the spirit of the Norton Medal.”

Mary Wilson and the late Ralph Wilson (Buffalo Business First file photo)
Mary Wilson and the late Ralph Wilson (Buffalo Business First file photo)

Wilson, a life trustee of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and honorary vice chair for 2019's Buffalo Homecoming 2019, has been devoted to Western New York since she first arrived in the area for the Bills home opener in 1990.

She has spent many years developing her Western New York Girls in Sports program, which biannually brings more than 200 9- to 12-year-old girls together to take part in various sports taught by young athletes from local universities and sports clubs.

The program, now ensured to run in perpetuity, is organized by the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County through an endowment from the Wilson Foundation.

The foundation has also pledged $50 million to the transformation of LaSalle Park along the Buffalo shoreline into Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park.

Wilson unveils plans for the reimagining of LaSalle Park in Buffalo during a 2019 press conference. (Buffalo Business First file photo)
Wilson unveils plans for the reimagining of LaSalle Park in Buffalo during a 2019 press conference. (Buffalo Business First file photo)

Through the years, Wilson has supported organizations benefiting communities in Buffalo, Erie County and Southeast Michigan, among them Hospice of Western New York, WNY Women’s Foundation, Food Bank of Western New York, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Girl Scouts of Western New York, the SPCA serving Erie County, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, to name a few.