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Jock Wheeler Obituary – Virginia Beach

Jock Rodgers Wheeler was born on September 9, 1932, the son of Francis Thompson Wheeler and Genevieve Bell Wheeler. He grew up in Hampton, Virginia, where he attended Hampton High School before enrolling in the Virginia Military Institute. After graduating VMI with academic stars in 1954, Jock attended the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, where he earned his MD and remained to complete his surgical training with Dr. David Hume to complete.

In 1960, Jock was commissioned as a lieutenant in the United States Navy. He traveled with a Navy fighter squadron for four years as their dedicated flight surgeon, including to Guantanamo Bay for the Bay of Pigs invasion.

After his service, Jock returned to MCV for his residency, during which he accepted an NIH postdoctoral fellowship at Westminster Hospital in London. There Jock worked closely with Sir Roy Calne and Sir Peter Medawar – both widely recognized as early pioneers in the field of organ transplantation and immunology.

While Jock was still in London when Sir Winston Churchill died, he volunteered as a first aider at Westminster Hall while the Prime Minister lay in state. This opportunity was one of Jock’s fondest memories of his time in London.

In 1966, Jock settled in Norfolk, Virginia and began his surgical practice. Four years later, he established the kidney transplant program at Norfolk General Hospital and shortly thereafter performed the first-ever kidney transplant in Hampton Roads.

Jock also served on the faculty of Eastern Virginia Medical School as a professor of surgery beginning in 1974. His passion for training the next generation of surgeons is what keeps him and his longtime surgical partner, Dr. Roger Gregory, initiated the Vascular Surgery Fellowship in 1975. At the time it was one of only twenty in the country. He was director of that program until 1994. Today – 49 years later, this fellowship continues to train emerging vascular surgeons.

Jock chose to leave private practice in 1994 to become chairman of surgery at EVMS. He served in that role for just six months before being appointed as the school’s next dean and provost. He served in that capacity for five years before retiring as professor emeritus of surgery in 1999.

For his numerous contributions to the field of vascular surgery and his exemplary career, Jock received a number of appointments and awards – including election to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, the Southern Surgical Association and the Society for Vascular Surgery. He served as president of Virginia Vascular, the Southern Association of Vascular Surgeons and on the medical staff of Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. He also received an honorary doctorate from EVMS, the Caravari Service Award from the MCV, and was appointed chairman of the Optima Health Plan.

Jock is preceded in death by his parents, his brother Francis Thompson Wheeler, II, his sister-in-law Josiane Wheeler and stepfather Guilto Guillette. He is survived by his wife, Bonnie Martinette Wheeler, and five children: Catherine Williams (Dan), Berkley Wheeler (Bruce), Whitney Wheeler, Jock Wheeler, Jr. (Charlene) and Kensey Edwards (Josh). He is also survived by his fourteen favorite grandchildren: Jeff Bedford, Richard Bedford (Madison), Carter Summerville (Jurrand), Bebe Chittenden, Maxwell Chittenden, Emery Chittenden, McKinley Wheeler, Chase Orrell, Casey Wheeler, Carley Wheeler, SueAnn Wheeler, Berkley Wheeler , Lila Wheeler and Rodgers Edwards. Jock’s favorite great-grandchildren are: Liam Bedford, Connor Bedford and Oakley Summerville.

Jock’s interests were too numerous to mention. Over the course of his life, he loved being on the water – whether that was teaching his children the meaning of ‘red, right, return’ or a day of fishing with Nick Ferguson. He also had a large orchid collection, many of which were rehabilitated by well-meaning friends and family. He enjoyed playing golf and was instrumental in the redesign of the Princess Anne Country Club.

A celebration of Jock’s life will be held on April 25, 2024 at 1:00 PM at the Galilee Episcopal Church (3928 Pacific Avenue, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451). A reception will follow.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in his name to the Jock R. Wheeler MD Scholarship through the EVMS Foundation, the Organ Project at Galilee Church or the VMI Foundation. Online condolences may be made to the family at hdoliver.com.