Obituary: Jack Wilson, dentist
Born: 1923 in Londonderry. Died: 13 April, 2012, in Stranraer, aged 89.
Well-known Stranraer dentist and all-round sportsman Jack Wilson died recently at the age of 89, four months after the death of his beloved wife Thea.
He was born in 1923 in Londonderry, where his father worked as a naval architect in the Northern Ireland Ship Building Company. His father then moved to Oxford, where Wilson got his early schooling. The family then returned to Glasgow.
While at school in Glasgow he was in the Officer Training Corps and when he left he was commissioned as TAR, being seconded to an army cadet battalion, where he became a company commander.
On finishing his university course he joined the regular forces and served in a dental centre in Oswestry, England and then was sent to Egypt where he became commanding officer of an army dental hospital stationed at Halifax. Wilson and the dental hospital were posted to East Africa where he remained until he was demobbed.
He married Thea in Glasgow in 1950 and went to set up his dental practice in Stranraer. He made time to promote general dental health in Wigtownshire and was secretary of the local and area dental committees for 35 years.
In the early 1950s, worried about the lack of dental surgical facilities, he and his colleague Gardiner Kerr approached the Scottish Office and Galloway Executive Council. After a meeting with Willie Ross, the secretary of state, they got the unique facility of allowing a general dental practitioner to carry out minor surgical procedures in the Garrick Hospital two beds each per month.
Both had worked doing oral surgery in army hospitals, Gardiner in Ballochmyle and Wilson in Mombasa Military Hospital. As a result, Wilson wrote a paper on this facility in The British Dental Journal which succeeded in opening up the same terms to other remote areas of the UK. In the Stranraer area, before this facility, patients had to travel to Ayr, Glasgow or Dumfries for similar treatment.
Another big benefit to the area was when they extended the surgical achievement by persuading the secretary of state that full-time consultants should work in the Stranraer area. A surgical consultant came from Ayr to Stranraer one day per month to see patients and an orthodontic consultant from Glasgow on the same terms. This was eventually extended to having full-time consultants in Dumfries.
A third and very significant achievement was persuading Wigtownshire to put fluoride in the water supply. The records of the fall in dental decay in subsequent years and the vast improvement in children’s teeth proved the success of this scheme. Unfortunately, it was later withdrawn due to a lobby to parliament saying compulsory fluoridation of a water supply infringed people’s human rights.
Outside dentistry Wilson was an enthusiastic sportsman and in his youth played rugby for Glasgow High School FPs. He was delighted to tell anyone listening that he played with the 1946s team that was the then unofficial club championship playing alongside such famous internationals as Angus and Donald Cameron, I Munro and I Docherty.
He also played cricket for Pollok in The Western Union and ice hockey for Glasgow Mohawk Juniors.
When he came to Stranraer he renewed his acquaintance with golf and became a low handicap player. He was captain of Dunskey Golf Club and president of The Wigtownshire Association. He was also a curler and president of Limekiln Curling Club.
Not being able to realise his own ambition to be a jockey he encouraged his family in riding and owned a few first-class one-day event horses and show jumpers. When his family left home he gave up horses and turned his hand to breeding Suffolk sheep with his son Peter with some success. However, he remained interested in horses and became the scourge of the bookies in Stranraer. At heart he was a family man and instilled in his four children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren an interest in people and a love of competitive sport.
Wilson and Thea also enjoyed travelling, jetting off to far-flung places long before many had become well known destinations. The Wilsons celebrated 60 years of married life in 2010 and with Wilson’s passing the curtain comes down on a much loved and unique couple.
Jack Wilson will be sadly missed by his family and may friends.
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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