Winter 2017

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In Memoriam: Dr. Roy Wilson (June 6, 1931-July 31, 2017)

One of the department’s previous chairs died July 31, and we wanted to shine a light on his life and legacy.


Dr. Roy Wilson was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, on June 6, 1931, to Roy Wilson and Adah Neuville Wilson. He was a graduate of El Dorado High School (1949), Stephen F. Austin State College (1951) and the Baylor College of Medicine (1955). He completed his anesthesiology residency at USAF Hospital, Lackland Air Force Base.

Dr. Wilson was a diplomate of the American Board of Anesthesiology and was a fellow of the American College of Anesthesiologists. During his 60-year career, he was appointed professor at the University of Texas Medical School system in Galveston, Houston and San Antonio; the Shriner’s Hospital for Children; and the Baylor College of Medicine; and he served as chair of the anesthesiology department at UMMC from 1977-85.

Dr. Wilson was inducted into the United States Air Force in 1958 and attained the rank of Captain, Regular Air Force Medical Corps. He received a Commendation Medal for the development of an extracorporeal circulation unit to provide open-heart surgery for the first time in the USAF-MC.

After being honorably discharged in 1964, he devoted the majority of his career to academic anesthesia and was an experienced researcher, doing most of his research with dogs and baboons. He authored more than 156 articles in many scientific journals and became a frequent lecturer and presenter. Dr. Wilson designed the acute services wing on the first floor of the original hospital building at UMMC, and also did extensive research in the area of malignant hyperthermia. He certainly was a “groundbreaker” in academic anesthesia.

According to his son, Dennis, Dr. Wilson’s greatest gift was becoming a teacher, because everyone knew he was extremely dedicated to his residents. He was both feared and admired by all who knew him. He always said to “stay away from MAC blades” and proved that  anesthesiologists truly are the unsung heroes of the operating room. He definitely had a life well lived, and we appreciated Dr. Wilson for his leadership and legacy in our department.

Dr. Wilson is survived by his wife, Dr. Alice Reagan Wilson; daughter, Kathi Wilson Hanlon (Craig); sons Dennis Wilson (Rebecca) and Richard Wilson (Lynn); and stepdaughters Charla Murray (Andy) and Abby Lovell (Jason). He was the proud grandfather of 11 and great-grandfather of one.