Dr. Stephen Wetmore sought to simultaneously leave a legacy and pay tribute to his late wife, Patricia, with his gift to establish the Stephen and Patricia Wetmore Chair in Otolaryngology.
An endowed chair position funded by retired West Virginia University School of Medicine physician and professor Stephen J. Wetmore supports the continued growth of the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery he proudly led for 27 years.
Wetmore sought to simultaneously leave a legacy and pay tribute to his late wife, Patricia, with his gift to establish the Stephen and Patricia Wetmore Chair in Otolaryngology. Dr. Hassan Ramadan, who worked with Wetmore for 25 years and succeeded him as department chairman, is the inaugural chair holder.
Wetmore joined WVU in 1988, after 11 years at the University of Arkansas. During his tenure, he expanded the department from three faculty members and eight residents to about 15 each, while also developing a strong research program.
A few years before his retirement, Wetmore approached the School’s leadership to discuss ways he could give back to the Department. Wetmore was the Romeo Yap Lim and Maria Corazon Wong Lim Chair of Otolaryngology for the last nine years of his career and settled on a chair position because it had the greatest impact.
“It’s a wonderful way to go,” Wetmore said. “It keeps your name there forever and also provides an ongoing gift for the institution. … I wanted to give back as much as I could to the department and to the institution, now that I could do that. I really enjoyed being a faculty member and chairman for all those years.”
Ramadan said Wetmore was always a dedicated, efficient and supportive leader to students, residents and faculty alike.
“He was adamant about having a strong department. He wanted to grow it as much as he could,” Ramadan said. “He would always have your back. He was always a champion for you.”
Wetmore was a mentor, partner and friend to Ramadan, who is known internationally for his otolaryngology expertise thanks to Wetmore’s support for his work. Wetmore urged Ramadan to remain at WVU over the years and recommended Ramadan to head the department upon his departure.
“It’s a great honor for me to have the chairman as the recipient of the Wetmore Chair,” Wetmore said, citing their great mutual respect for one another.
Wetmore stepped down in July 2015, about five months after his wife died due to rare-but-aggressive bile duct cancer. Patricia Wetmore was a “vivacious woman” who worked as a nurse in Little Rock, Arkansas, when they met. Their romance blossomed after he wrongly yelled at her for sending borrowed instruments back to another hospital.
She was a childhood friend of U.S. President Bill Clinton, who stayed in touch and sent a condolence letter to Wetmore upon her passing. Wetmore said she would be happy to know he established the chair position in her name.
Wetmore’s gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.
To make a gift to the WVU School of Medicine, contact Assistant Vice President for Health Sciences Development Clare Flanagan at 304-293-0788 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Director of Development Patty Lonsbary at 304-293-1448 or email@example.com.