In Memoriam: W. Wilson Hulme II

National Postal Museum Curator of Philately
photo of W. Wilson Hulme II next to a display of stamp sheets
W. Wilson Hulme II (1946-2007)

Statement by Museum Director Allen Kane on the death of W. Wilson Hulme II:

“Wilson Hulme was one of the most amazing people I have ever met. This is a huge loss for the museum and the philatelic community. Wilson was constantly looking for new, innovative ways to share the hobby and inspire new collectors. From royalty (Queen Elizabeth II) to rock stars (John Lennon), Wilson showed the world there is a place for everyone in stamp collecting. We are grateful to Wilson Hulme for bringing his vast knowledge, great vision and capable leadership to the National Postal Museum. He will be truly missed.”

Statement by Museum Council of Philatelists Chairman Don Sundman:

“Wilson Hulme was a world-class philatelist who loved stamps, the hobby, the National Postal Museum and the people involved with the hobby. When Wilson was named curator, he said it was his dream job. Wilson lived his dream, and it shows in the great things he accomplished at the museum.”

photo of Hulme inspecting a stamp sheet

In August 2002, Wilson Hulme began his work as Curator of Philately at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum with a clear vision—the museum would be the center of the philatelic universe. From that day forward, Hulme worked with unwavering determination toward realizing that vision.

Hulme wanted the National Postal Museum to be a place where philatelists could “access the inaccessible;” the phrase became a sort of mantra among the museum’s staff. Under Hulme’s leadership, the NPM offered collectors unprecedented opportunities to see extraordinary philatelic rarities. Hulme was instrumental in bringing exhibits like “The Queen’s Own: Stamps That Changed the World,” an exhibition of materials from Queen Elizabeth II’s own Royal Philatelic Collection; “Stamps Take Flight,” featuring materials from the United States Postal Service’s Postmaster General’s Collection; and “Rarity Revealed: The Benjamin K. Miller Collection,” a current exhibition materials from the renowned Benjamin K. Miller Collection, on loan to the National Postal Museum by The New York Public Library. Hulme also believed in the broad appeal of stamps; he was instrumental in the museum’s acquisition of John Lennon’s boyhood stamp album.

Hulme’s vision included enhancing the National Philatelic Collection and elevating the museum’s status as a resource for philatelic research. In addition, he provided a sense of purpose and direction that guided the members of the National Postal Museum’s Council of Philatelists in their work on behalf of the museum.

Among Hulme’s innumerable successes at NPM was the addition of noted philatelic expert Cheryl R. Ganz to the museum staff as a Curator of Philately in October 2005.

Hulme, 60, began collecting stamps in his childhood and was a serious collector and philatelic researcher for 30 years. Before joining the National Postal Museum staff, Hulme was a member of the museum’s Council of Philatelists. A life member of the U.S. Philatelic Classics Society, he was serving as president of the organization at the time of his death. He was a life member of the American Philatelic Society, the Confederate Stamp Alliance, and the American Philatelic Research Library. His other memberships included the Collectors Club of New York and the Royal Philatelic Society, London.

Hulme was raised in Ardmore, Okla. He graduated first in class in Systems Engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968, received a master’s degree from Michigan State in 1969 and a master’s in business administration from Harvard Business School in 1978. Hulme served in the U.S. Navy from 1968 to 1976 on nuclear submarines; after leaving active duty, he remained affiliated with the Navy Reserves, was promoted to Captain and served as Commanding Officer of a NATO unit. He worked for Frito-Lay from 1978 to 1992, and for Unilever from 1992 to 1997. He was Vice President of Operations of Nabisco International from 1997 to 2001.

Hulme is survived by his wife of 34 years, Susan Hulme of Morristown, N.J. He is survived by his mother, Anna Ruth Hulme-Shedd of Ardmore, Okla., his sister Barbara Everheart of Dallas, and his brother Ron Hulme of Houston. He was preceded in death by his father, Woodrow Wilson Hulme.