Posted on: March 14, 2023
Dr. William McKinnon Massie died peacefully on Sunday, February 19, 2023, surrounded by his family.
Born in the Virginia Baptist Hospital in Lynchburg on October 14, 1930, Bill was the son of Ella Wyatt McKinnon Massie and Robert Withers Massie, Jr. He was named for his mother’s father, Dr. William Hugh McKinnon who began his medical training as a medic in the Civil War.
He married Anne Adams Robertson, daughter and only child of Annie Scott Harris Robertson and Douglas Alexander Robertson on April 30, 1960, at Court Street Methodist Church in Lynchburg. They were very happily married for 54 years until her sudden death in 2015.
He grew up on Lone Jack Farm, the family dairy farm in Campbell County. Each morning before school he was in charge of laying and lighting fires in the house, which had no central heating while his brothers milked the cows. The milk was then driven into town and delivered to Westover Dairy on their way to school in Lynchburg. His smart and hardworking parents created a happy and loving family and Bill’s childhood with three brothers and sister was lively and creative. The farm was a highly interesting place to grow up.
Bill graduated from E. C. Glass High School in 1948 and was president of his class. He graduated from Virginia Military Institute in 1952 with a Bachelor of Arts in English, receiving the Second Jackson Hope Medal for second highest attainments in scholarship. Observing that the training tables in the VMI dining hall offered more and better food, Bill joined the VMI track team. In 1952, he ran his fastest time, a 4.24 minute mile on the track in Chapel Hill, NC. He received his medical degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine in 1956 and was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. The summer of 1953, following his first year in medical school, he studied at The London Hospital Medical College and worked at The London Hospital in Whitechapel (now The Royal London Hospital). Upon graduation from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, he began the first half of a two-year rotating internship at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York. This was interrupted by his commission in the United States Air Force. He served as a medical doctor at Lajes Air Force Base on the Portuguese island of Terceira, Azores for a year and a half. This was followed by six months at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, New York where he and Annie spent the first few weeks of their marriage. Upon fulfillment of his Air Force commitment, he and Annie returned to Rochester for Bill to complete his internship at Strong Memorial Hospital. They returned to Charlottesville for his Residency in Internal Medicine followed by a Fellowship in Rheumatology at the University of Virginia Hospital.
In 1963 he returned to Lynchburg with Annie and his young family and began his practice of Internal Medicine with a specialty in Rheumatology on the 12th floor of the Allied Arts Building. He and Dr. John Vernon Torbert (“Jack”) joined practices moving to Tate Springs Road. Ten years later their practice was joined by Dr. John Mott Robertson, Annie’s first cousin. Their practice later moved to Oak Lane next to the Virginia Baptist Hospital. Dr. Earl Guthrow replaced Dr. Torbert upon his retirement and the practice was also joined by Dr. Lisa Wisniewski. Bill practiced medicine for 36 years until his retirement in 1999. He made house calls to his patients at all hours of the night, anywhere in the city of Lynchburg. His medical career was completely focused on providing the best care possible for the health and well being of his patients. His office was so congenial and devoted that they have continued to meet monthly for a meal, long into everyone’s retirement.
An ardent lover of plants, especially native species, he was a Master Gardener. He gave exceptional and infinite care to everything-small plants that grew to large shrubs and trees, his beloved wife, his children, his friends, and his patients.
A lover of the land, animals (dogs especially), birds, wildlife, nature, and a believer in the enduring value of open spaces, Bill placed his portion of the family farm on a permanent conservation easement held by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. A true steward of his land, he participated for many years in WHIP (Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program) and CREP (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program).
Bill was strong in body and spirit, curious, kind, thoughtful, careful, compassionate, reasonable, with a wonderful sense of humor, a gentleman and a gentle man. For all of his personal accomplishments, the one he was most proud of was his marriage to Annie. They were completely devoted.
Bill, his sister and three brothers were all christened together at Lone Jack by The Reverend Dr. Robert Magill. He was a lifetime member of St. John’s Episcopal Church where he served on the Vestry. He was a member of The Camellia Club, The Journal Club, The Men’s Horticultural Club.
He was preceded in death by all of his siblings and their spouses: brother Robert Withers Massie III (“Susie” Anne Duval Miller Massie), sister Dr. Ella Graham Massie Marks (The Reverend Peter Alexander Marks), brother Dr. James Darroch Massie (Barbara Bronson Massie), brother Thomas Massie (Helen Patricia DeJarnette Massie). He was also preceded in death by his nephew Dr. Peter Alexander Marks.
He is survived by his daughter Annie Harris Massie Winstead and Anne’s husband Alexander McIver Winstead of Lynchburg, his son William McKinnon Massie, Jr. and Will’s wife Alice Burwell McGuire Massie of Richmond, granddaughter Ella Burwell Massie, grandsons Ian Young Winstead and William Alexander Winstead. He is also survived by former sister-in-law “Bobbie” Roberta Wright Massie and 15 admired and loved nieces and nephews.
The family wishes to express their heartfelt gratitude to Bill’s remarkable and devoted caregivers. Bill received the highest level of love, care and kindness, which he often remarked upon. Deepest thanks to Kim Brown, Sheila Day, Dominique Allen, and especially to Linda Scott, Henry Rucker, and Abra Stout who devoted so much time the past few years providing Bill with the greatest quality of life possible while still living at home. The family is also grateful for the care Bill received during his short time on the 5th floor of Drinkard at Westminster Canterbury. Thanks to Alexis, April, Amanda, Faith, Holly, Kathy, Kendra, Lori, Nadia, Rachel, Sheryl, Tammy, Tommy, Tracey, and also Crystal in Housekeeping and Tara and KJ in Dining Services. The family is grateful for his care through Centra Hospice. Special thanks to the kindness of CNA’s Harold Jones and Mary Powell, Kristin Fleming, RN, and the persistence and intelligence of Melanie Fastabend, Centra Hospice Nurse Practitioner. The family will be forever grateful to Lori, Tracey, Sheryl, and Kathy (Westminster Canterbury) and Katie Kilmer (Centra Hospice), for their superb care on the last day of his life.