Chapel Hill, North Carolina – Dr. Frank Wilson of Chapel Hill, NC died in Durham, NC on May 31, 2023. His family includes his wife Ann Irvin Wilson; his daughters, Jennifer Wilson of Carrboro, Anna Wilson of Saxapahaw, who preceded him in death, and Robin Johnston and husband Inho Kang of Hillsborough; his grandson Peter Johnston and wife Elizabeth Johnston, and their son Brooks Johnston; his granddaughter Merrimon Stillman and husband Joshua Stillman, and their sons Jacob Stillman and David Stillman; and his granddaughter Ann Johnston and Sasha Ermoshkin.
He was born in Rome, GA in 1929 to Frank Wilson and Ida Cheyney Bryan Wilson. After graduating from the Darlington School, he entered Vanderbilt University in Nashville where he excelled in swimming. He graduated from the University of Georgia medical school in 1954. He then interned at the Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, GA. After his internship, he began his residency at Columbia University.
Frank served in the U.S. Navy from 1956 to 1958 on active duty and in the Naval Reserve from 1958 to 1964. He left the service as a Lieutenant Commander.
In 1964, with his wife and three daughters, he came to North Carolina and joined the Division of Orthopaedics at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. For 47 years, Dr. Wilson was a member and leader in the UNC Department of Orthopaedics, the School of Medicine, the University at large, and the profession of orthopaedic surgery. From 1967 to 1996, he served as the Chief of the Division, and then Department, of Orthopaedics. He was a member of the American College of Surgeons, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the Knee Society, and many other positions of service to orthopaedics. He also served as chair of the Residency Review Committee for Orthopaedics.
Dr. Wilson served terms as the President of the American Orthopaedic Association, the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, the American Orthopaedic Society, and the North Carolina Orthopaedic Association. He authored more than 100 medical research publications, over 50 book chapters, 8 books, and mentored over 100 orthopaedic residents.
Among the many awards he received: the Nicholas Andre award for Orthopaedic Research; the Kenan Distinguished Professorship, University of North Carolina; The Thomas Jefferson Award, University of North Carolina; Distinguished Faculty Award, University of North Carolina; Norma Berryhill Distinguished lecturer, University of North Carolina; Alpha Omega Alpha (faculty); and the E. Burke Evans Award for Academic and Clinical Excellence (first recipient).
When he wasn’t helping his patients walk again or educating future generations of surgeons, Frank enjoyed literature, theatre, and classical music. He taught literature courses at the UNC Department of English and studied Thomas Wolfe, his favorite author. He was a competitive tennis player and swimmer, winning awards in both sports. Sunday nights at the dinner table, where Frank’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren met to disagree and laugh, were colorful with the opinions of all ages.
A funeral service will be held at two o’clock, Wednesday, June 14 at the Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. Burial will take place at the Chapel Hill Memorial Cemetery following the reception at the Church Parish Hall.
In place of flowers, friends may make a donation to the School of Medicine Academy of Educators at the University of North Carolina.
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