Posted on: January 12, 2021
Dr. William Edmond Rabil peacefully left us on Saturday, December 26, 2020, at the age of 98, to be with his Lord in heaven.
Bill was born October 8, 1922, in Weldon, NC, and was the fifth child of nine children born to Frank and Mary Rabil. He graduated from Weldon High School in 1940, where he was valedictorian of his class, a regional debate winner, a member of the football and baseball teams, and voted best all around student. Receiving a scholarship, Bill enrolled at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in 1940, from which he graduated in 1944 with a B.S. Degree in Medicine with high academic honors. Bill was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and served as its Vice President. He completed his medical training at the University of Virginia where he received his Doctor of Medicine Degree in 1946. While there he completed the Army Specialized Training Program.
Bill moved to Winston-Salem to continue his medical training as an intern and as a resident in pathology at the Bowman Gray School of Medicine at N.C. Baptist Hospital. While an intern, Bill joined the U.S. Air Force as a Flight Surgeon. He first served as a First Lieutenant at Randolph Field in Texas, and retired as a Captain at Nellis Air Force in Nevada. Bill continued to serve for two additional years as a Major in a reserve Hospital Unit.
More importantly, during his residency at Bowman Gray he met Rosalie Daye, whom he married in 1948. Bill and Rosalie were blessed with over 61 years of marriage until her death in 2010. Bill is survived by his five children from the marriage, William E. Rabil, Jr. (Cyndi), Richard Rabil (Kathi), Allan Rabil (Jean Anne), Dr. Donald Rabil (Eileen), and Mary Anne Lepak (Greg), along with 17 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. Bill was predeceased by four of his siblings (Lucille, Fred, Joe and Leo) and is survived by four of his siblings (Mitch, Marguerite, Ernie and Helen), as well as numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
Bill was a prominent surgeon in Winston-Salem from 1949 to 1985, when he retired. He started his professional career at City Memorial Hospital where he was Chief Resident in Surgery and later was President of City Hospital’s Professional Staff. When Forsyth Memorial Hospital opened, Bill moved his surgery practice there, serving a term on the Executive Committee.
Later, he was a founding doctor for Medical Park Hospital where he was Chief of the Surgery Section as well as a member of the Executive Committee. During his long career Bill also was a delegate to the North Carolina Medical Society and Chairman of the Cancer Committee for the Forsyth Medical Society.
Bill was very active in the Winston-Salem Community, constantly working to assist others. He was very active in the Right to Life Committee, where he served as Vice Chairman. Also, Bill was very proud of his membership in the Piedmont Civitan Club where he served as Chaplain and as a member of the scholarship committee. In recognition of his 50 years of membership and service, Bill was honored as the Distinguished Civitan of the Year in 2014.
Bill’s spiritual life was at the center of everything he did. A devoted member of Saint Leo The Great Roman Catholic Church, Bill served the Church in numerous leadership capacities, including Chairman of the Advisory Council, Extra Ordinary Minister, and as Chapter President and a District Governor of Serra International. He was active in the Knights of Columbus, as a Fourth Degree Member, and was honored in 2016 with a lifetime member achievement award. In further recognition of his service to the Catholic Church, Bill received the high honor of being inducted as a Grand Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem.
More importantly to Bill, as a devout Christian, he believed in the power of prayer, not only offering a prayer for his patients prior to surgery, but also requesting they pray for him. He trusted God in all his work and recognized that God was working through him to help care for others. Throughout his lifetime, Bill witnessed many miraculous events of faith and healing.
Inspired by these experiences, and as a tribute to his wife, Rosalie, he recounted a number of them in a personal autobiography he wrote for his family and friends entitled “The Spiritual Diary of a Surgeon”.
Of special significance in Bill’s life, and very much remembered throughout the community, were the over 500 presentations Bill gave on the burial cloth of Jesus, the Holy Shroud of Turin. His talk, known as the “Medical Aspects of the Crucifixion”, explained in great detail the many physical traumas Jesus suffered and endured, and demonstrated clear evidence that they were reflected by the Shroud of Turin, and that the accuracy of the images on the Shroud was proof of Christ’s resurrection.
Bill will be remembered as a wonderful physician, a remarkable leader, a devoted Catholic, and a kind man whose faith and spirit will be cherished forever by his family, friends, patients, and all those who had the opportunity to meet him.
The family wishes to express gratitude and appreciation to Bill’s caregivers, Cleo Bennett, Ruby Spann, Grace Shutt, Ann Smith, Beverly Sartor and Carolene Gordon for their wonderful and loving care. Also, the family especially thanks his primary physician, Francis X. O’Brien, MD, his neighbors, Mary and Gene Bond, Deb Remley, Father Brian Cook, and all those who brought Holy Communion to Bill, for the love and friendship they gave him.
Due to Covid restrictions, a private funeral mass will be held at Saint Leo The Great Catholic Church, with Father Christopher Gober officiating. A celebration of life will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Saint Leo’s Catholic School Endowment, 335 Springdale Avenue, Winston-Salem, NC 27104.