Dr. Bob likes to say, “You have to ride all the rides” and on June 11, 2019, he began a last long ride. When his lymphoma, diagnosed in November 2018, did not respond to treatment, he opted for hospice and died at home.
Bob was born Dec. 6, 1942, in Cornwall, New York, to James and Isabel Wilson. His father was teaching at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point and as his life began so did his love of and loyalty to the military, the first “M” important to him.
After acceptance to West Point, his dream of being a cadet was shattered when a misread x-ray disqualified him.
Never one to give up, after graduating from Air Academy High, he studied at the University of Colorado. It was here he met me, Dorothea Figge, and we began a long journey together when we married on July 2, 1965.
The second important “M” then became medicine when he earned an MD from the University of Colorado. Bob chose to intern with the U.S. Army and we were off to Tripler Army Hospital in Honolulu. During a year at Martin Army Hospital in Ft. Benning, Georgia, Michael McClain was born. Returning to Tripler, Sara Malia was born and Bob completed a general surgery residency. Plastic and reconstructive surgery became his focus and that required a move to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C.
Our family had three years in Second General Hospital, Landstuhl, Germany, then not wanting to be an administrator, Bob resigned from the Army and began private plastic surgery at the Wenatchee Valley Clinic. For two consecutive years, Bob and I traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico, performing cleft lip and palate surgery for local children and adults. After nine years in Wenatchee, he chose to return to his first “M” and rejoined the Army. This decision provided three more years in Germany, three at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital, Denver, back to Germany for four more and finally two years at Madigan Army Hospital, Ft. Lewis. During his years in the Army, he commanded an Emergency Medical Team that assessed damage and health needs of Algerians from an earthquake. In 1980 after the helicopter intended to rescue the American hostages in Iran crashed, he retrieved the burned soldiers and traveled with them to Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas. In 1995 the Honduran government requested Bob to operate on children born with cleft lip and or palates.
Retiring in 2002 to Winthrop in the Methow Valley, he volunteered for Washington Trails Association and served on several local boards. Bob skied, timed ski racing and refereed soccer but his favorite sport was biking. We explored as many states as possible in “Winnie,” our third VW camper. His third important “M,” math, led him to tutor Liberty Bell High School students in geometry, algebra and calculus. Throughout his life, he had a deep abiding Christian faith that guided his life and professional work.
He is survived by Dotti and son Mike (Winthrop), daughter Sara, son-in-law Mike Rolfs, granddaughter Freya and grandson Taggart (Wenatchee).
We will celebrate his life with a funeral at Lake Chelan Lutheran Church, a Methow Remembrance, and final burial at Pike’s Peak National Cemetery Colorado Springs, Colorado. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to your favorite charity in his honor.