Dr. John M. Wilson Jr., a distinguished, admired and dedicated surgeon died peacefully at home on Wednesday, June 6, at the age of 86. In a medical career that spanned more than 40 years, he served as chief of surgery at Norwalk Hospital and an attending physician at Stamford and St. Joseph’s Hospitals in Connecticut.

He is survived by his daughters, Mary Moore of Darien and Lisa Aulet of Belmont, Mass., and his sisters Jean Tharpe of Wilton and Janet (Sister Stephanie O.S.U.) Wilson of Bronx, N.Y. He is also survived by seven grandchildren: Patrick Moore of Needham, Mass., Meghan Moore and Kelly Moore of Darien, Kenneth Aulet and Thomas Aulet of New York City, Kyle Aulet and Christopher Aulet of Belmont, Mass.

Dr. Wilson, the son of a Bell Labs electrical engineer and a New York City public school teacher, was born on November 10, 1925, in Bronx, N.Y. He attended parochial schools and graduated from Fordham Preparatory School at the age of 16. Following an accelerated pre-medical program at Fordham College, Dr. Wilson graduated from Cornell Medical School at the age of 21 in 1948.

While he was growing up, the Wilson family spent their summers in Rowayton, beginning his seven decade connection to this area. During one of those summers, at the age of 16 and on a blind date, he met the “love of his life,” Elizabeth Busch Farrell. They married seven years later. Elizabeth, known by family and friends as “E,” was the daughter of John M. Farrell and Mary Maud Hadden. Dr. Wilson was predeceased by his wife Elizabeth and his only son, John M. Wilson III.

Following his graduation from medical school, Dr. Wilson became a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Corps Reserves. During the Korean War, he was chief of surgery at the 278th Station Hospital in Berlin, Germany, and ward officer at the 95th General Hospital in Munich, Germany.

Following his honorable Army discharge in 1952, he returned to complete his surgical residency at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York. He served as the team physician for the Darien High School varsity football team from 1957-82. In 1969, Dr. Wilson was named director of surgery at Norwalk Hospital, followed by promotions to chief of surgery in 1972 and assistant chief of staff in 1980. He received the Norwalk Hospital Department of Surgery Distinguished Service Award in 1990 for his service to the hospital and the surrounding community. Upon his retirement from surgery in 1997, Dr. Wilson joined the Board of Directors of the Norwalk Hospital Foundation. In this capacity, Dr. Wilson received the William J. Tracey, M.D. Award in 2005, for “exemplary commitment and philanthropic leadership to strengthen the hospital as a progressive leader in the healing arts.”

Upon his retirement from 41 years of surgery, Dr. Wilson commented that his “biggest satisfaction was taking care of patients with cancer who were eventually cured.” Dr. Wilson had a very active surgical practice, which included the maximum surgical schedule and extensive office hours. He took great pride in his work and quietly treated all, regardless of ability to pay.

In his retirement, Dr. Wilson traveled throughout the world, often with at least one grandchild in tow. He spent as much time as he could with his family, especially his seven grandchildren. Through discussions at the dinner table, and the travels that sprung from them, he shared his love of history with his grandchildren and instilled in them his passion for learning. Although not a sports fan, he took joy in attending any swim meet, football, baseball, basketball, field hockey or hockey game involving a grandchild (although his joy at the latter was directly correlated to the availability of a heated viewing area). His adoration of his grandchildren was exceeded only by their admiration of him.

Dr. Wilson’s passions were his family, his faith, his profession and last but not least, finance. He was a board member of the American Institute of Economic Research and an astute investor. He was a skier until his early 70s, an accomplished sailor, and an avid gardener. Up until his death he was looking forward to another season at the beach and the coffee ice cream cones he associated with it.

The family will receive friends at the Edward Lawrence Funeral Home, 2119 Post Road, Darien, on Friday, June 8, from 4-8. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. John R.C. Church, 1986 Post Road, Darien on Saturday, June 9, 2012 at noon. Burial will follow at St. John Cemetery in Norwalk.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Norwalk Hospital Foundation 34 Maple St. Norwalk, CT 06902, Stamford Hospital Foundation 1351 Washington Blvd. Stamford, CT 06902 or STAR PO Box 470 Norwalk CT 06856.