In Memory of Edward J. Wilkinson, MD (1938-2021)

It is with great sadness to hear of the passing of Dr. Edward J. Wilkinson, past President of FSP (2004). Dr. Wilkinson was a shining example of a role model for several generations of trainees and peers in pathology and a lifelong advocate for women’s health.  In addition to his incredible experience and knowledge in his specialty of Gynecological Pathology, Ed was an engaging, kind, and patient educator in his interactions with residents, fellows and faculty.  He was always available to consult with trainees and faculty who brought him challenging cases to review.  Dr. Wilkinson was particularly proud of the Cytopathology Fellowship, of which he was program director for 33 years, and which produced over 60 fellows. 

Dr. Wilkinson did his medical training in Wisconsin in the mid-1960’s and served as a major in the US Air Force from 1969-1971.  He became faculty at the Medical College of Wisconsin as a clinician in Obstetrics and Gynecology during the early to mid-1970’s but quickly segued to a second residency; this time in pathology at the Milwaukee County Medical Complex.  In the late 1970’s Ed became Director of Cytology at Milwaukee County General Hospital as an Associate Professor of Pathology, Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Wilkinson joined the faculty of the University of Florida College of Medicine in 1980 as a professor in the Department of Pathology, Immunology, and Laboratory Medicine and an adjunct professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.  A true citizen of our specialty, Ed served in many administrative capacities both within his institution and in our societies including President of the Florida Society of Pathologists, President of the International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease, President of the American Society of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology, and numerous roles at UF such as Vice Chairman of Pathology, and Interim Department Chair from 1996-1999, to name a few.  Ed also served an advisory role in the development of Gardisil, the first successful anticancer vaccine.

As a world expert in gynecological diseases, Dr. Wilkinson had many peer-review publications, most written with early career faculty and trainees. He co-authored “The Atlas of Vulvar Disease”, which has been considered the definitive work on female lower genital tract diseases.  Dr. Wilkinson served for many years as Editor in Chief of the “Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease”.

As evidence of his commitment to lifelong learning, upon retirement from pathology Ed served on the Curriculum Committee of the Institute for Learning in Retirement and was President of the Athenaeum Society. He enjoyed nature, the sounds of birds, and being on or near the water in any type of boat. Upon retirement from UF, Ed left us ten recommendations for success that remain in our sign out area.  Three of these exemplify his charm.  1. “Always think the best of people, they may surprise you.”  2. “It is possible to be very knowledgeable and talented and still be a nice person.”  3. “Have a happy heart and a smile, it can carry you through the day and might help someone”.  We will miss him dearly and we offer our deepest condolences to his loving family.