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William W. Wilson, 97, neurologist, psychiatrist

William W. Wilson, 97, a neurologist and psychiatrist, died Sunday, April 27, of cardiopulmonary arrest at his home in Wynnewood.

William W. Wilson
William W. WilsonRead more

William W. Wilson, 97, a neurologist and psychiatrist, died Sunday, April 27, of cardiopulmonary arrest at his home in Wynnewood.

Born in Philadelphia, Dr. Wilson graduated from William Penn Charter School, Princeton University in 1938, and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine four years later.

He interned at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia General Hospital.

From 1943 to 1947, he was a Navy flight surgeon deployed to the South Pacific. He was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross and honorably discharged with the rank of lieutenant.

Dr. Wilson served his residency in internal medicine at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Philadelphia. He was certified by the American Boards of Psychiatry and Neurology in 1950. He taught neurology at the University of Pennsylvania until 1958 and was chief of neurology at Philadelphia General Hospital from 1949 until the facility closed in 1977.

Dr. Wilson told his family that Philadelphia General was a good training ground because it attracted a wide variety of cases. "My dad said that was where you left your training wheels," said his daughter, Wendy E. "The place was a big engine, but it worked."

Dr. Wilson was on the staff at Bryn Mawr Hospital, Delaware County Memorial Hospital, Roxborough Memorial Hospital, New Jersey State Hospital, Trenton Hospital, and the Northwest Institute of Psychiatry. He continued practicing in Wynnewood until 1995.

In his spare time, Dr. Wilson grew orchids in a greenhouse on his property; he had thousands. His specialty was paphiopedilum orchids, called lady slippers because their pouches suggest a backless shoe.

Dr. Wilson made hundreds of his own orchid crosses, giving the new creations American Indian names. His passion led to the formation of Penn Valley Orchids Inc. in 1940. He created a catalog and shipped orchids worldwide, his daughter said.

He exhibited at the Philadelphia Flower Show and won every award possible. A longtime judge, he was a member of the American Orchid Society, the Greater Orchid Society, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Orchid Society, and the Royal Horticultural Society.

In high school and college, Dr. Wilson excelled in sports from football to golf. He ran track as a sprinter at Penn Charter and Princeton, and won many races at the Penn Relays. He finally gave up his Franklin Field box at the 50-yard line in 1990.

He was a member of the Merion Cricket Club from 1937 until his death.

Surviving, in addition to his daughter, is a son, William W. Jr.

At Dr. Wilson's request, no services are planned.