IOP remembers dedicated nurse, community volunteerTweet
By Bob Raynor & Susan Scherer, R.N.
Institute of Psychiatry
The Institute of Psychiatry lost a valued staff member April 14 in Bobby Wilson, R.N.
His loss extended well beyond MUSC as he also was a long-serving nurse at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center.
Wilson’s impact in the Lowcountry community was felt in many ways through his service as a member and deacon at Ashley River Missionary Baptist Church in West Ashley and with the Masonic Lodge.
Perhaps his greatest contribution was a personal mission – helping the community of recovering alcoholics and addicts and those in active addiction. It was personal for Wilson since he also was a recovering addict – his own struggle progressing since his tour of duty in the Vietnam War. He used his story of recovery as a way to help the suffering of others. He is attributed for the creation of Narcotics Anonymous meetings at the VA hospital.
Following Wilson’s funeral, staff at the IOP Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs, an area where he regularly worked, discussed ways they could remember and honor him. A memorial planting at the IOP’s Park and Therapy Gardens was an idea inspired by past Arbor Day plantings initiated by the Garden Club of Charleston. The club has been a sponsor of the gardens for 15 years, providing plants and supplies for patients to support their therapeutic gardening. Other funds went to purchase items including an iron trellis located at the garden entrance and a fountain.
While the uniqueness of the garden seemed appropriate for the memorial plantings, a separate plan was initiated through the generosity of a former patient. Upon discharge, the patient contacted IOP staff to communicate her desire to donate. She remembered a recreation therapy group who met at the IOP park and wanted her donation to support the park.
On July 12, a half-dozen IOP employees gathered in the rain to witness a special planting ceremony honoring Wilson’s memory. Earlier in the year, another patient made a similar gift thanking staff for providing their level of care.
Through this act of thanksgiving, Wilson’s spirit and service, representing the best of MUSC, will long be remembered.
Remembering Bobby Wilson
“Bobby was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. He was selfless, a caring nurse and the most knowledgeable person I’ve ever worked with regarding substance abuse treatment, psychiatry and nursing in general. His example taught many, and his legacy lives on in the many of us lucky to have worked with him.”
IOP lead therapeutic assistant
“Bobby was a great nurse, educator and mentor to many but he was an even better man. The personal and professional impact he has had on our patient population, his community and the 4N staff will never be forgotten.”
—Gene Woodall, R.N.
IOP nurse manager
“When counseling patients, Bobby would use his story as an example of how one can make changes in their lives. ‘If I can do it, anybody can,’ he’d say. Bobby was a great example of putting patients first and was always willing to listen to what they had to say.”
IOP therapeutic assistant
“The memory that is the dearest to my heart is Bobby’s generosity and kindness. Even in the midst of his own illnesses, Bobby always made time to help others in need.”
—Wanda Brown, R.N.
IOP clinical unit leader
“He always was a team player. No matter how busy he was, he would always put patients first and would help quell an agitated milieu in a heartbeat. He always had my back. I will forever cherish my memories of working with him.”
–Elaine Proctor, R.N.
“A gentle man filled with compassion not only for the patients, but also for his co-workers. For example, we were working on the unit, talking about how hungry we were, and I said how much I loved old-fashioned Southern soul food, but that I didn't cook anymore. Bobby took that to heart, and on the next shift we worked together, he presented me with a bowl of homemade chitlins, collards and rice. He must have seen the look of surprise and delight on my face, because said this: ‘Don’t ever say you want something in front of me because I’ll find a way to get it!’ That was Bobby.”
—Cindy Callaway, R.N.
“As a new nurse, Bobby’s mentoring was comforting, reassuring and patient. He allowed me to make my own mistakes without judgment and provided guidance when necessary. It wasn’t long before his quiet but profound sense of humor was evident, and we quickly became dear friends. His patience, nonjudgmental attitude toward everyone and respect for all can never be duplicated. There are no words to describe how much he is missed.”
—Susan Scherer, R.N.