William Lee Wilkes, MD – March 30, 1941 – July 13, 2022
After a life well lived, William Lee Wilkes, MD passed away peacefully with his beloved three children, Natalie, Kim and Forrest at his side on July 13, 2022. Dr. Wilkes was born and raised in Augusta, Georgia and knew early on he wanted to follow his father, a community pediatrician, into medicine.
Throughout high school and college, Dr. Wilkes was known for his serious dedication to academics and playful spirit.
Federal District Judge Dudley Bowen and former classmate remembers, "I never called him Bill - that was his father’s name. I knew him for 75 years as ‘William’ or, simply ‘Wilkes’. In 1959 William and was voted ‘most handsome’ by the Richmond Academy yearbook staff. They might well have included ‘most popular’. The boyish aspect of his good looks (the grin, cowlicks, and freckles) made him quite disarming. Nevertheless, the fun-loving William was a steady worker, studied hard, and possessed an admirable intellect. William discovered another rare talent—an ability to say just about anything to anyone and get away with it (the magic of his grin and chuckle). A genuinely magnetic person, William not only attracted people but made a loyal friend. His company was a source of pride for many, me included. William was the embodiment of success in high school. His grades, letters in track and football, rank in the ROTC brigade and total lack of conceit made him unique. William’s quick wit was the byproduct of a sense of humor which was, in a word, boundless. Free ranging, oft displayed, sometimes inappropriate, it was never sarcastic or to ridicule. Laughter was close to the surface but Williams’s kindness, considerate nature, sensitivity (often masked) and charm ran deep. Early to late in life, it was clear he loved children, animals (especially horses) and most people. He had more patience than one might initially expect but never let convention, fools or trivia impede his path toward a worthwhile objective. "
In June of 1963, Dr. Wilkes earned his undergraduate degree in premedical studies from the University of Georgia where he belonged to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Many knew him as a passionate Georgia Bulldog fan. In 1967, he received his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia. Dr. Wilkes completed his general surgery internship at Johnston-Willis Hospital in 1968 and a residency in otolaryngology, head and neck surgery at the Medical College of Virginia in 1972. He completed a subspecialty fellowship in otology at Richmond Children’s Hospital and a preceptorship at The Los Angeles Foundation of Otology in 1973. He served as chief of otolaryngology and allergy medicine at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California from 1973-1975 achieving the rank of major.
Of all the places he lived, he fell in love with Virginia and spent the remainder of his life here. For more than 47 years, Dr. Wilkes served patients in the Richmond community. His patients were extremely fond of him and enjoyed his witty sense of humor and charisma. Upon his passing, he was still employed at 81 years of age with Richmond Ear, Nose and Throat. The staff remember him as a fun loving, jolly and gentle physician.
Dr. Wilkes was also known as a long-time member and former president of the Deep Run Hunt Club and was happiest when riding his beloved horse, Shoney. After becoming a marriage officiant of the Universal Life Church, he married many couples in the Richmond area with his side business, Marriages and Carriages.
His friends, siblings and children remember him as an adventurous soul taking time to learn ballroom dancing, woodworking, and acting. He participated in Richmond area films riding a horse or ballroom dancing. Dr. Wilkes’ celebration of life event will be held Oct. 28. In lieu of flowers, donations will be accepted towards his celebration event. For information contact Deep Run Hunt Club at (804) 784-5386. He is survived by his children: Natalie (Steve) Shaw, Kim (Charles) Anchors and Forrest (Cheryl) Wilkes; his six grandchildren, and his siblings: Dr. James Wilkes and wife Cindy, Dr. Joseph Wilkes and wife Debbie, Ginger Wiley and husband John, and Jane Crawford Wilkes. Preceded in death by his parents Dr. William A and Lucille Shepard Wilkes.