Edward J. Wilkinson M.D.
“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.” – E.B. White
Edward J. Wilkinson MD, Professor Emeritus at the University of Florida College of Medicine, died just after sunrise on the Solstice, December 21, 2021, surrounded by his family. He was a scientist, physician, teacher, mentor, friend, as well as a loving husband, brother, uncle, father, and grandfather. He was 83.
Edward was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Anne Razbornik Wilkinson and Edward Daniel Wilkinson MD. Educated at Marquette University High School, Marquette University, and the Medical College of Wisconsin, he received his MD in 1964. He interned at the University of Illinois Research Hospital and completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Milwaukee County General Hospital. Following a fellowship in Gynecological Pathology at Harvard, he served as a major in the US Air Force from 1969-1971. He returned to the Medical College of Wisconsin for a residency in Pathology and in 1974 was appointed to a faculty position in Pathology at MCW. In 1980 he was recruited to the University of Florida College of Medicine with dual appointments in the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and as Professor of Pathology. He remained in this position until 2017 when he retired as Professor Emeritus. During his long career at the UF College of Medicine he served in many senior positions including as Interim Chair and then Vice Chair of Pathology, a position he held until he retired in 2017.
Dr. Wilkinson was an internationally respected figure in the field of pathology. He published over 160 referred articles, 50 book chapters and 3 books, mostly focused on gynecologic pathology and cytopathology. He was an active educator of medical students, residents, and graduate students; he especially enjoyed his work directing the yearlong fellowships in gynecologic cytology. Over his years of service 31 fellows completed his program. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award of the College of Medicine in 2017.
He served as president of the International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease, president of the American Society of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology, and president of the Florida Society of Pathologists. He played an advisory role in the development of Gardisil, a vaccine developed by Merck to prevent cervical cancer, the first successful anticancer vaccine. He served on advisory committees at the Food and Drug Agency and the National Institutes of Health as well as WHO. He served on numerous professional journal editorial boards, including serving for 12 years as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease.
Edward loved learning, and cultivated lasting and loving relationships with many people, and with the natural world including the birds, trees, marine life, and waters he loved so well. After retirement he joined the UF Retired Faculty Organization, and was a member of the Natural History Society, The Woodworkers Club, and The Poetry Group at The Oak Hammock Retirement Community. There he served on the Curriculum Committee of the Institute for Learning in Retirement and was President of the Athenaeum Society.
Following his diagnosis with terminal illness, he authored a book of essays called “Learning, Forgetting, and Passing It On” on topics of chaos, entropy, and finding meaning in the world. Proceeds from sale of the book are donated to nature conservation charities.
Edward was known for his kindness, wisdom, respect, and compassion for others, as well as a wry sense of humor. He generously shared his time and knowledge with anyone who came to him with questions on navigating medical diagnosis and care. He was a guide not only for family and friends, but for friends-of-friends and wide circles beyond.
Edward was a respectful steward of the natural world. He would cease from conversation to stand in silent awe at the appearance of a hawk, the sound of the sandhill cranes overhead, the rising of the moon, or the lift of a dolphin’s fin. He loved to be on rivers, lakes, and oceans in almost any kind of boat. His deep caring for others extended to everyday acts of compassion such as rescuing a trapped wild butterfly and making sure it could fly free.
He is survived by his beloved spouse of 55 years, Kathleen Murphy Wilkinson; his daughters, Amy Wilkinson (Greig Mulberry), Kim Wilkinson (Rahul Gupta), and Heather Wilkinson (Marc Donis); by grandchildren Minka and Victor; by his brother James Wilkinson (Christine Beck); and by many dearly loved nieces and nephews, cousins, and other relatives. Edward is pre-deceased by his brother Michael Wilkinson.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) and Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery, where he chose to have his body buried under a beautiful oak tree. “Life goes on,” he liked to say.
A memorial event to celebrate his life will be held at Oak Hammock at the University of Florida at a later date.
Arrangements in care of Milam Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 311 South Main Street, Gainesville, FL, 32601. (352) 376-5361