Making Lives Better

Emory Medalists show support, leadership in their fields

With more than a combined century of service to Emory and their communities,Paul McLarty (left) and Cecil Wilson each have made innumerable contributions to improve the lives of others.

The Emory Alumni Association welcomed two new members—Paul McLarty 63C 66L and Cecil Wilson 57C 61M—to the ranks of Emory Medalists, recipients of the highest honor bestowed on alumni, this fall.

With more than a combined century of service to Emory and their communities, McLarty and Wilson each have made innumerable contributions to improve the lives of others.

Inspired by Students

The needs of students have long inspired McLarty to become a benefactor through scholarship, mentorship, and leadership in law as well as in education. 

“We decided several years ago that our giving to Emory would be focused on scholarships,” he says. McLarty and his wife of forty-one years, Ruth, established scholarships at Emory’s School of Law and Emory College, and also contribute to the Emory Alumni Board Leadership Scholarship. “It’s been really great to see kids get benefits from that.”

An undergrad rock star with the band Mac Davis and the Fabulous Cots in the 1960s, McLarty went on to acceptance at Emory Law School. “I decided to put my head into the wind and study, and I discovered the Dean’s List and places I hadn’t spent much time before,” says McLarty, who later became senior partner of the firm McLarty, Robinson and Van Voorhies. 

“Through the years, we’ve employed twenty-six Emory undergrads as paid interns in our office,” McLarty says. “It’s been great watching them grow up and succeed.”  

The Emory chapter of Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) stands as an example to the national fraternity due in great part to McLarty’s involvement and influence. He now serves on the ATO Foundation Board and has served as alumni adviser to the group for twenty-five years. McLarty invested time in rebuilding a previously failing chapter. Today, ATO at Emory consistently wins awards, and “since 2007 we have been our national organization top chapter three times.”

McLarty is a past president of the Emory Alumni Board and remains involved with university activities. He and his wife enjoy continued contact with Emory students. “It keeps you on your toes,” he says.

A Leader in the Global Medical Field 

“Being able to treat disease, to help people out, and to solve their problems was a very important part of what I wanted to be involved in,” says Wilson of his career in medicine.

Attending Emory was a family tradition, and Wilson believes his education at Emory was about “scholarship, the question of what you need to know, and how you learn how to find what you need to know.” 

Following medical school, with his high school sweetheart–turned–wife Betty Jane Webb Wilson 58C, Wilson embarked on a career in private practice medicine and governance. His experience was marked by pivotal moments. In 1967, the U.S.S. Pueblo was captured by North Korea and its crewmembers imprisoned. Upon their release a year later, Wilson was part of the team that evaluated the crew as they came ashore. Such early experiences with treating posttraumatic stress disorder shaped Wilson’s perspective on the value of health care. 

Upon completing navy service in 1971, Wilson established an internal medicine practice in Winter Park, Florida. As his career progressed, “It occurred to me that, as a physician, just seeing patients wasn’t enough. We needed to be involved with the system, the structure,” he says. “I entered the field of organized medicine.”

As incoming president of the American Medical Association (AMA) in 2010, Wilson reported on the passage of the Affordable Care Act. “What it meant was that tens of thousands of people were able to have insurance so they would be able to live longer, be happy, and work well. For me and all of the people involved in the AMA, this was a very important part of our participation,” he says.

Among other leadership roles, Wilson served as president of the World Medical Association, during which he traveled to six continents, sixteen countries, and twenty-six nations, setting an example of leadership and service to communities around the world. 

His thoughts on retirement are clear. “I need to keep doing what I’m doing,” he says.

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