Posted on: November 16, 2022
Dr. Wayne H. Wilson. 84, died on Friday, October 21, 2022 in Roanoke VA. Wayne was born in WWII era DC, on October 22, 1938, to Ida Caroline Nielsen (an accomplished government secretary)and George Hilton Wilson (a young CPA in charge of Public Utility Reports for Congress). During Wayne’s infancy, the death of his father resulted in Wayne being raised in his early life in Iowa by his mother’s close-knit Danish family. Wayne valued the influence of Iowan farming and Danish heritage (of uncles, aunts, cousins, and neighbors, a large extended family). With his mother’s remarriage, Wayne, except for summers spent on the farm, returned to Arlington, VA for schooling and graduated from Wakefield HS.
There, excellence in academics and his performance in track attracted the attention of Coach Bast of Roanoke College. At Roanoke College, Wayne was an honor student, president of his class and Kappa Alpha Fraternity, ran track/cross country and swam competively. He married his college sweetheart, Jo Umberger (from Wytheville) and four years later, in 1964, graduated with honors from Medical College of VA. Wayne accepted a 5 year coveted Ohio State Surgical Residency with Dr. Robert M. Zollinger, a renowned surgeon and a legendary hard taskmaster of a residency work schedule requiring 36 hours on, 12 off, around the clock for $100/mo. In 1969, Wayne completed his residency and was drafted. He and Jo emerged from their tiny 50’x10’trailer/living quarters with 3 children in tow.
They left for Army Basic in Texas and then began a 3 year tour of duty in Japan. At the rank of Major, Wayne operated on multitudes of casualties transferred from Vietnam by plane. Later, he became Chief of the Far East Burn Unit where Vietnam burn patients were treated and stabilized for eventual transfer to the US. At the end of his duty in Japan, Wayne was offered the opportunity to serve with the higher echelon of medical officers as Assistant Chief of Surgery at Walter Reed. There, at the rank of LTC, Wayne trained Army surgical residents and treated soldiers as well as government dignitaries, officials and ambassadors. He received the Meritorious Service Award and was mentioned in the Congressional Record for his successful surgery and care of wounded Senator John Stennis.
In 1977, Wayne left the Army and returned to Roanoke for service at the VA Medical Center in Salem. As a general/vascular surgeon, Wayne treated veterans, became Chief of Surgery, was appointed Professor of Surgery of the University of VA, and trained UVA residents and medical students. He received numerous teaching awards, was inducted into elite medical/surgical societies. In 2014, at the age of 76, Wayne retired and was humbled by honors from officials, former residents, hospital workers and patients.
During his time in Roanoke, Wayne led an active life. He served as an Elder at Covenant Presbyterian. As a Boy Scout Leader, he hiked extensively on the Appalachian Trail and took Scouts to Philmont in NM. As a player and as a fan, he enjoyed baseball. In retirement, he and Jo made annual trips to FL Spring Training and to occasional games in DC. The Wilson family lives in close proximity of each other and enjoys togetherness- work and play, horses, the lake, boating, skiing, swimming, planting and digging, and annual family caravans to the Outer Banks. Daddy Wayne especially loved his kids and grandchildren. He was always a visible, enthusiastic, and proud support at every sports game, concert, celebration, graduation and event.
Wayne was predeceased by his parents, uncles and aunts. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Mabel “Jo” Umberger Wilson; his daughter, Dr. Lisa Wilson Farthing and husband Koy; daughter, Andrea Wilson and husband, Dave Shena; and son, Brad Wilson and wife, Jamie Wilson, N.P. Grandchildren are Wilson Farthing and Dr. Sara Farthing and fiance’ Ford Carson. Younger grandchildren are Nathaniel Wilson(11) and Madeleine Wilson (7). A brother, Dr. William Reamy and husband Thomas Petrillo also survive.