Dr. “Noah” Rouse Wilson, Jr, aged 89, died peacefully in his sleep on the morning of June 3, in the presence of family.
A beloved dentist to many in Chatham County, Dr. Wilson maintained a practice in Pittsboro for 48 years, where he reared 6 children along with his wife of 66 years, Betty F. Wilson, before retiring in 2010.
Dr. Wilson was born on May 23, 1929 in his grandfather’s home in Johnston County not far from the Neuse River, son of Noah Rouse and Braxton Banks Wilson of Wilson’s Mills, and later, upon the death of his mother at age 8, Frances Gulley Wilson.
He was a graduate of Smithfield High School and received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he would later return for dental school.
It was during this time that he was introduced through family to “Betty” Elizabeth Faucette of Durham, who would become his bride.
Upon graduation, he was drafted to serve in the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict and lost part of his hearing awaiting training to fly reconnaissance missions. He remained stateside as a first lieutenant, serving his country by training new draftees.
After his military service, he chose to pursue his dental degree. By the time of completion of his studies, he and Betty had a family of five small children. In the early 1960’s, a time in North Carolina when medical and dental facilities were especially limited, Dr. Wilson served the state by providing dental care to children in what were then impoverished rural communities- towns in Duplin County, Ocracoke Island, Richlands, the Boys and Girls Home (orphanage) at Lake Waccamaw.
In 1962, the couple chose Pittsboro to bring up their children (which became 6) and to assume the dental practice of Jim King, DDS. Throughout his dental career, Dr. Wilson was known to make house calls to elderly or disabled patients and to treat dental emergencies at late hours or on holidays. Believing everyone should have access to dental care, Dr. Wilson sometimes bartered for fish, vegetables, or skilled services in lieu of financial payments. In the course of his practice records showed that he had seen between six and seven thousand patients, often multiple generations of families.
Dr. Wilson was a deeply spiritual and humble man, who rarely sought credit for his deeds. It showed in his service to others, the care he exuded in the community and with his family, his engagement in his church, and in his great love for the natural world. He led in-depth Bible discussions, was a deacon and elder in his church, and sang baritone/bass in in church choirs at the Pittsboro Baptist and the Pittsboro Presbyterian Churches. He was active in the Pittsboro Lion’s Club for many years providing support to the blind. He was active in the Chatham County Dental Society. He was a local pioneer of solar energy and organic gardening in the early 1970’s, whose 1.5 acre vegetable gardens and later his wonderful flowers, were a marvel to many. He was also an early proponent of alternative diet & health care, jogging and exercise, and helped found the community’s once-popular Chicken Bridge Run. Concerned passersby would see him out jogging in the countryside and offer: “ Doc? You alright? Need a ride?”, so new was the pastime.
Colorful and playful in his expressions of compassion, Dr. Wilson was a comfort and joy to many, from babies (whom he loved to hold) to elderly people (whose stories he loved to hear). Nearly every Thursday morning for 30 years at a men’s breakfast at the site of Virlie’s Grill originally to discuss Sunday school lesson plans, he animated discussions with small town banter on politics and culture and the latest joke. His children and grandchildren recount numerous and vivid stories of adventure and wonder and thoughtful teaching moments of his own, unique design.
Even during advanced stages of his long bought with Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Wilson continued to care for others around him, to find joy in the beauty of plants and light, to spread laughter, and to help those around him feel loved and appreciated. He will be incredibly missed.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Betty Wilson; his six children including Marshall Wilson (and wife, Leslie) of Manassas, Virginia, Dr. Rouse Wilson (and wife, Sue) of Pittsboro, Braxton Malan (and husband, Scott Malan) of Fearrington, Bett Wilson Foley (and husband John Foley) of Pittsboro, Charlotte Wilson (and husband, Reed Bowman) of Sebring Florida, Jane Allen Wilson (and husband Hank Hardigan) of Siler City; his brother Mark Wilson (and wife, Imogene) of Dunn; along with 12 grandchildren, 4 step-grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews and cousins he held dear; and countless others on whose lives he made an impact. He is preceded in death by his sisters, May Wilson Winters and Janey Wilson Herring.
The family will greet friends the night before the funeral at Donaldson’s Funeral Home on West Street in Pittsboro on Wednesday, June 6 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. The funeral service will take place on Thursday, June 7 at the Pittsboro Presbyterian Church on East Street at 11:00 a.m. followed by a light reception.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in honor Dr. Wilson to Chatham County Habit for Humanity, Hospice of Chatham County, the Alzheimer’s Association, or a charitable organization of choice.