Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Writer Kathy Y. Wilson will be remembered December 11 during a memorial service

Tony Walsh
Kathy Y. Wilson died November 22, 2022 at the age of 57. Besides being a writer, she was also an art collector and stands with her home collection in 2017.

CityBeat described its "Your Negro Tour Guide" columnist as "frank, profane and hilarious."

Friends and family will remember Kathy Y. Wilson December 11 at the Woodward Theater. The Cincinnati writer, journalist, educator and performer died November 22, after a 2020 kidney transplant failed and she developed pneumonia.

Until health problems slowed her down, and there were plenty of them-congestive heart failure, fluid in the lungs, kidney failure-Wilson was busy writing, and teaching classes.

For years she wrote a column for CityBeat called, “Your Negro Tour Guide,” that later was turned into a book and a one-woman play. Citybeat described Wilson’s works as, “frank, profane and hilarious.”

In a 2020 episode of the Cincinnati Hamilton County Library’s podcast, “Inside the Writer’s Head,” Wilson said working at the downtown library early in her career wasn't just a job, it was a learning experience. Wilson enjoyed working at the literary desk.

“Patrons would come over and ask us to be quiet,” she joked. “Like, ‘Can you be quiet in here? Is this a library?’ One woman came up and said, ‘Is this a library or not?’”

While at the library Wilson taught herself the Dewey Decimal System and read the Oxford English Dictionary.

“The closed stacks downstairs, two floors of books, are you kidding me? In a temperature-controlled environment, I would just go down there for hours and hours,” she said.

In 2014 the library named Wilson its first Writer-in-Residence.

According to the Thomas W. Jones Executive Director of the Library Foundation Staci Dennison, “Kathy was a local literary icon and journalist. She helped us forge the library and The Library Foundation’s Writer-in-Residence program. Her passion, spirit, wit and drive made a great impression on everyone that she worked with.”

Wilson was also an art collector. In that 2020 library podcast she explained how she amassed so much stuff. “The term I use is “Negrobilia,” and it’s all that offensive stuff that your grandparents act like they never had. Then when they die you find it in the attic and try to sell it at the garage sale. Only you put it in the back and hope nobody sees it and that’s how the stuff stays in circulation.”

In 2017 The Weston Art Gallery had an exhibit recreating part of Wilson's home. The gallery described it as a "tantalizing look at the provocative and eclectic collection of artwork, memorabilia and racist objects assembled" by the acclaimed writer.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.