Kendall Wilson Jr., D.O.

WVSOM Foundation receives $80,000 gift from alumnus’ estate

The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) Foundation, which provides support to WVSOM, received an $80,000 gift from the estate of Kendall Wilson Jr., D.O., a graduate of the school’s Class of 1981 who also taught at WVSOM and served on its Board of Governors.

Wilson’s gift will be split evenly between the WVSOM Foundation’s Legacy Endowed Scholarship and a scholarship newly established by the Class of 1981.

Donette Mizia, WVSOM’s executive director of foundation relations, said the school is thankful for Wilson’s gift and that it will help medical students for many years to come.

“This gift is a direct result of an alumnus who valued his education so immensely that he chose to remember WVSOM in his estate planning,” Mizia said. “Dr. Wilson had such a strong connection to the school that he ensured his generous gift was in perpetuity. This gift will bolster two scholarship endowments at the WVSOM Foundation, giving both the ability to provide more meaningful awards.”

Wilson passed away in September 2022.

He was born in 1948 in Marion Station, Md., and studied biology at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va., before completing a Master of Science degree in pathology at the Medical College of Virginia. He came to WVSOM in the late 1970s with the intention of becoming a student, but was first hired as a pathology instructor and director of laboratories, he explained in a video recorded for the school in 2022.

After earning a medical degree from WVSOM, Wilson completed a residency at the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Mo., and additional training at the Cranial Institute and at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

He established a practice in Lewisburg, specializing in osteopathic manipulative treatment and the treatment of chronic pain. He also treated patients at the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Alderson, W.Va. His passion for education led him to become an associate professor of clinical sciences at WVSOM, in addition to serving on the school’s Board of Governors for seven years.

Wilson’s research on Chapman’s reflexes — nodules within the fascia that link the nervous system to the lymphatic system — was published in Foundations of Osteopathic Medicine, a textbook used in osteopathic medical schools.

A Civil War enthusiast, Wilson also was CEO and project director for the Battle of Lewisburg Reenactment Weekend, one of West Virginia’s most highly regarded Civil War events. He taught public workshops on Civil War medicine and the war’s influence on modern medical practices.

Wilson wasn’t just a graduate and faculty member of WVSOM; he was its neighbor. His home on Lewisburg’s Lee Street stood adjacent to the school’s campus, between Greenbrier Avenue Park and WVSOM’s main building. He also played a role in the local food industry, helping to introduce the city’s first Chinese restaurant, China Palace, by persuading its owner to relocate to Lewisburg.

In his 2022 video, Wilson said he’d wanted to be a physician since age 13 and thanked WVSOM for helping him achieve his goal. He described the school as representing “opportunity for native West Virginians, opportunity for the community and opportunity for the state as it relates to returning physicians to West Virginia and to Appalachia.”

Gary Sajko, D.O., a classmate of Wilson who has led fundraising efforts to create the Class of 1981 scholarship — WVSOM’s first class scholarship — said he is appreciative that Wilson’s gift will benefit students who want to attend medical school at WVSOM.

“A significant number of members of the Class of 1981 were first-time professional students in our families. Many of us had parents who, like my dad, were coal miners,” Sajko said. “I’m hopeful that this generous gift will allow us to grow more funds to help students make their dreams of becoming physicians come true.”

Mizia said gifts presented to WVSOM through estate planning will help ensure the school’s future, and that donors who contribute through this method will receive a special designation.

“Estate gifts are a remarkable way to give back to WVSOM. When alumni and friends name WVSOM as a beneficiary in their estate planning and provide the necessary documentation to the WVSOM Foundation, they will be recognized in our Society 1972 and invited to exclusive donor events,” she said.