Wes Alexander Eulogy July 27, 2018
By Robert A. Fisher, MD, FACS
We are all gathered here today to honor J Wesley Alexander.
On July 8, 2018, We lost Wes Alexander at 84 years of a life lived fully. To Maureen, His beloved Mo, Wes would recount to all his friends and family that Mo embodied the famous Coca Cola mantra of the time, “She was my real thing” and would join Wes in marriage for 35 beautiful years. Mo, we can’t express enough all our gratitude and respect for your unwavering dedication, care and support; never faltering to be there every minute for Wes, the Love of your Life.
Today, these words won’t be remembered any more than the 30 years Wes led the Division of Transplantation at the University Of Cincinnati College Of Medicine, or that Wes was one of only 2 Surgeons ever to serve as President of The American Society of Transplant Surgeons, the Surgical Infection Society and the American Burn Association from 1984 to 1989.
We, close to Wes, knew him as the Bear for his powerful and enormous generous presence. He after all was the real treasure born in El Dorado, Kansas, May 23, 1934, to Merle Lidia Alexander, his Mother he adored and maybe not coincidental would share initials M. L. with Maureen Louise Alexander, his adored wife. Merle had the strength and courage to not stop Wes from rounding up rattle snakes and milking their venom for antivenin preparation, dissect every West Texas critter he could catch, and later in his Army service at Fort Sam Houston burn research, take blood from alligators (WOW). Ultimately, His inexhaustible intellect and curiosity would provide the energy and genius to define 3 fields of Medicine and Surgery, fuel the innovation of 12 science patents, generate 12 million dollars with 39 Federal Grants, write 700 refereed science journal publications, and train 66 Surgical Fellows, to be leaders in the surgical fields Wes helped define; just to name a few contributions of too many to recount in an hour.
More importantly Wes was a provider, the security, and inexhaustible Love and Support to His Family from Eldest to Youngest:
Joe: Father to Emily, Ian, Rachel, Therese, Isaac, Olivia, Colleen
Judy: Mom to Kathryn and Kristin
Randy: Dad to Max and Ethan
Elizabeth: Mom to Matthew, Abby, Jacob, Noah, and Rosary
Lori: Mom to Kendall and PJ
AND last but never least in Wes’ Love,
Molly: Mom to Corben
Wes’ genetic legacy will perpetuate further through 13 Great Grandchildren; and He will watch over them in Spirit as He did in Life.
Now, Only the wise and profound William A. Altemeier, Chairman of Cincinnati Dept. of Surgery from 1952 to 1978, would foresee that Wes would be the inaugural holder of His Altemeier Chair; and be awarded the Greatest UC College of Medicine award, the Daniel Drake medal. Yet to Wes it was the more than 9 thousand patients he served, including the wounded Haitians, in 2010 after the earthquake devastation that would risk His and Maureens’ life, this was His joy of SERVICE. It was knowing that if kind Jimmy Fidler or masterful surgeon Rino Munda had a surgical Conundrum they would rely on Wes to solve it.
Wes, you will be remembered for your whit and fun in life. Wes loved fishing, hunting, and eating sausage & pancakes at Gwennie’s in Alaska. He authored an encyclopedia of every edible plant, & flower in Alaska, “just in case we get lost up here”, He would say, grinning and knowing full well Mo would catch the biggest and plenty of fish to prevent anyone from going hungry.
Wes’ humor was powerful, exemplified when the very serious mainland Red Chinese Hosts of the first USA/Chinese Surgery conference in 1985, were speechless with laughter and applause when Wes presented them a signed Tee shirt by none other then the Greatest Cincinnati RED, Pete Rose. This act of Diplomacy is credited with opening up major doors of collaboration between the USA & China science communities.
Of Wes’ 66 Fellows & hundreds of Residents, we are His Academic sons and daughters who are priviledged to have shared in his love of science, education and humanity. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863, “ We are dedicated here, to the unfinished work He so Nobly advanced.”
To Mo and Wes’ Children and Grandchildren, I and We, his friends and colleagues can never thank you enough for sharing Wes’ enormous capacity of Love, Generosity, & Humanity with us. We love you Wes and will never let your spirit leave our hearts!