Ian Wilson – Harbor Light News

Ian Wilson

Longtime pediatrician, Ian Wilson, 94, of Petoskey died Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, at Bay Bluffs Medical Care Facility in Harbor Springs after a long battle with dementia. He was born on February 15, 1927 in Detroit, Michigan, to Andrew Gerald and Estella (Smith) Wilson, where he was raised.

At the age of 17, Ian dropped out of high school during World War II to enlist in the US Coast Guard where he served as a radio technician on LST 782 in the Pacific. After his military service, Ian did not return to high school; instead, he was accepted and went straight to Oberlin College. He attended Oberlin for three years, then was admitted early to Case Western Medical School in Ohio. Dr. Wilson liked to tell people that he never graduated from high school or college. He did, however, earn his medical degree from Case Western. He completed his internship at Grace Hospital and a pediatric internship at Children’s Hospital, both in Detroit. After completing his medical training, Ian joined the Wilson Diagnostic Clinic in Detroit, where his father and two brothers practiced.

In 1968 Ian moved his family to Petoskey where he practiced at Burns Clinic and Little Traverse Hospital, until his retirement in 1993. There he was instrumental in opening a neonatal intensive care unit (very unusual in a small town) and was acquired. as a neonatologist. He loved and respected the nursing staff, and after his retirement, when he woke up during the night, he would sometimes stop, pick up a bag of donuts and go to visit them in pediatrics. Ian was president of DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan and also chief of staff at Little Traverse Hospital in Petoskey.

Ian was blessed with two loving marriages. In 1950 he married Sydne Van Winkle, and they had 3 children: Martha, Sara and Gerald. After Sydne passed away, he married Onalee Lark in 1998.

He was an avid sailor, and spent as much time as possible on his various sailboats, all named Pibroch. His love of sailing developed during his youth where he spent his summers at the family cabin in Bruce Beach, Ontario. As an adult, Ian, with the help of his stepfather, Rip Van Winkle, built his own cottage near the family cottage.

After moving to Petoskey, Ian and Sydne sold the Bruce Beach cottage. Petoskey turned out to be a big life changer for Ian. He lived a few blocks from his job and his boat in the Petoskey Marina.

Ian and Sydne joined First Presbyterian Church in Petoskey, where he attended regularly. He played in the band Praise, participated in the session and contributed in many other ways. Church life and spirituality figured prominently in his life.

Ian had many hobbies. One was playing bagpipes. He taught himself to play while in college and marched in the Kincardine, Ontario Pipe Band. He also often sang from his boat at dusk in the North Channel of Lake Huron.

He learned to play the violin as a child and later played his violin in the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra, the worship band at First Presbyterian Church, and occasionally at his daughter’s, Martha’s Church in Virginia.

Tennis was another hobby, which he shared with his wife Onalee, whom he met at Bay Tennis and Fitness in Petoskey. When he couldn’t play anymore, he went to have “coffee klatch” with his tennis buddies, after they finished playing.

Within a year of moving to Petoskey, Ian taught himself to ski and became a member of the National Ski Patrol. Every year he wore his Scottish kilt and played the bagpipes atop the Boyne Highlands. He loved skiing so much that he decided that on Sunday mornings we could worship God on the ski slopes as well as in church.

In the winters, he skied; summers he sailed, and in the spring and fall he expanded his house. A notable addition to the home was a tower above the third floor of his 1800s Victorian home on Lake Street.

Ian is survived by his wife, Onalee; his children Martha (Irby) Jones; Sara (Jean) Green; Gerald (Lindy) Wilson; his sister Jean Chandler; 8 grandchildren and 1O great-grandchildren.

He was predeceased by his first wife, Sydne; his parents; her stepmother, Tootie; his brothers, Gerald and Andrew; and her in-laws, Rip and Clara Van Winkle.

A memorial service celebrating Ian’s life will be held at 11 a.m. on July 1, 2022 at First Presbyterian in Petoskey. Dr. Wilson will be buried in Greenwood Cemetery at a later date.

The family suggests memorial donations be made to Petoskey First Presbyterian Church or Bay Bluffs Medical Center.


Leave a Comment