Wilson's studies weren't limited to police work. He wrote extensively on topics ranging from marriage to the nature of bureaucracy and even penned a tribute to Bill Watterson when the cartoonist retired his comic strip, "Calvin and Hobbes."
In his work, Wilson was preoccupied with studying and restudying the evidence, trying to see only what was in front of him, Skerry said.
"He didn't get caught up in abstruse theories or sophisticated methodologies," Skerry said.
In his personal life, Wilson was also well-grounded, Skerry said, describing him as a typical native of southern California: "open and egalitarian."
"He was just as comfortable having a burger at a joint on the Pacific Coast Highway that bikers would go to as he would be at his favorite steakhouse in New York or his favorite hotel in London," Skerry said.
Wilson taught at Harvard for 26 years, then moved in the late 1980s back to California to teach at the University of California at Los Angeles and Pepperdine.
He later returned to New England to be closer to his two children and grandchildren.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.