Wesley Aaron Volk, PhD

Class Year



Posted on: July 23, 2020

On Sunday, July 12, 2020, Wesley Aaron Volk passed away at age 95 in Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge.

Wes was born in 1924, in Mankato, Minnesota to Albert Lee and Della Buelow Volk. In 1942, he joined the United States Navy and was sent to the University of Washington in Seattle, where he was commissioned as an ensign. After serving as a deck officer on an LST in the South Pacific during World War II, he was released to inactive duty and returned to the University of Washington where he earned a B.S. in Chemistry and a B.S. in Food Technology. He then earned an M.S. in Microbiology and a PhD in Microbiology.

Wes joined the Department of Microbiology in the School of Medicine at the University of Virginia in 1951 and soon became a full professor. During his 43 year tenure at the University of Virginia, he took three annual sabbaticals: the first at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, the second at the Max Planck Institute for Immunology in Freiburg, Germany, and the third at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France.

Wes had a passion for world travel and he visited numerous countries with his wife Joan. He also enjoyed boating and attending college sports events. After retirement, Wes volunteered for many years for Meals on Wheels in Fluvanna County. Wes and Joan also sponsored two children from different countries through the years.

Wes was preceded in death by his brother Harvey Cecil Volk, his first wife, Rose Marjorie Keller, and his second wife, Joan Ryan Franke. He is survived by his brother, Robert Floyd Volk; his daughter, Leigh Sullivan; and his three sons, Kurt August Franke, Bradley George Volk and his wife, Stephanie, and Fritz Royden Franke. He is also survived by his six grandchildren, Karl Royden Franke and his wife, Donna, Christopher Royden Franke and his wife, Ashley, Ryan Michelle Franke, Scott Taylor Franke and his wife, Sami, Cory Austin Volk, and Ashby Marjorie Volk. He also has three great grandchildren, Adison Grace Wilson, Sawyer Kinsley Franke, and Oliver James Franke.

His ashes will be interred in the Columbarium at the University of Virginia during a private ceremony. The family is planning a Celebration of Life next spring, hopefully, with a vaccine in place for the COVID-19 virus. If you would like to attend the Celebration of Life, please email fritz@fritzfranke.net.