John Knox Wilson '39
It might well be said that John Wilson, one of seven children of medical missionary parents, was born to serve. After childhood and schooldays in Korea, he made his way across Asia and Europe by transcontinental railway en route to North Carolina, where he entered Davidson to join the Class of 1939. As a student, he competed in track and soccer, and performed in the band, glee club and quartet while pursuing his interest in science. After his medical education at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, he went on to specialize in pediatrics and surgery. All the while, he was preparing for a life of service that would combine his medical skills with his love for humankind.
After two years in the military, he began a pediatrics practice in Greensboro, where he and Nancy spent seventeen years raising their six children. The Presbyterian Medical Center in Chonju, Korea called him for three years before his return for practice and teaching in California, Virginia and Kentucky. Always concerned for the least fortunate, he also made use of his skills at refugee camps in Cambodia, Somalia, and Palestine, as well as at hospitals in Kenya and Lesotho. Work for the North Carolina Department of Public Health took him to Black Mountain, North Carolina, where he and Nancy may have finally settled down.
A man with a light heart, John's many hobbies delight his family and friends. An expert gardener, he also looks after the community lake for his Black Mountain neighbors, who are always welcome on the Wilson tennis court. His design for a greenhouse that one person can construct feeds families in North Korea and Latin America. Music has always been part of his life, and he lends his tenor voice to the church choir. He probably sings while pursuing another of his passions-woodworking.
Because you have exemplified the twin goals of a Davidson education-academic excellence and service; because you have accomplished God's work in North Carolina and around the world with quiet modesty; and because your classmates, friends, and patients have discovered God's grace through your hands, heart, and mind, the Alumni Association presents you, John Knox Wilson, with its community service award, named after Davidson's fifteenth president, John W. Kuykendall, who challenged both students and alumni to use their energy and gifts for the benefit of others, as you have done.