Ben Matthews Willwerth, 75, of Long Cove Club on Hilton Head Island, died Tuesday, April 3rd at 1:10am of complications of chronic illnesses with his family at his side. Ben was born on August 21st, 1942, in Binghamton, NY to Dr. Paul and Margaret Matthews Willwerth. He was married on August 21st, 1965, to Nancy Dianne Willwerth in Columbus, Ohio, and they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary 3 years ago. Ben attended Duke University for his undergraduate and medical school education, and Case Western Reserve for his surgical residency. He was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society upon graduation from medical school. Ben excelled as a vascular and general surgeon until his retirement in 2004. He was the loving father of Kim (and Jim) Daniel and Ben (and Betsy) Willwerth and proud grandfather of Kate, Caroline, and James Daniel and Sarah and Andrew Willwerth. He is survived by his wife, children, and grandchildren, his brother-in-law Wes (and Ann) Furste, and sister-in-law Susan Furste (and Fred Carpenter). His death was preceded by the death of his parents and his sister Mary Alice Blevins.
Ben was industrious from a young age, delivering newspapers to his paper route, mowing at the local golf course on Seneca Lake, and pursuing and achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. After his extensive education, he accepted an academic position as Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in Hershey, Pennsylvania. His research efforts led to the publication of 13 surgical journal articles, but he missed the doctor-patient interactions of a clinical surgical practice. With mixed feelings, he and his family left Hershey to begin his long surgical career, which he loved so much, in Elmira, New York. Ben was a long-standing member of the American College of Surgeons, the Society for Vascular Surgery and the Eastern Vascular Society. He pioneered the use of laparoscopic surgical techniques and endovascular stents in his hometown of Elmira. Ben was best known, however, for his kind, gentle demeanor. His passions included playing golf and squash, collecting model trains, and building and flying remote controlled airplanes. Enjoying a little ice cream or a mango smoothie was always a bright moment in his day. His favorite activities in recent years were walking his dog Willie II, napping, and being with his friends and family.
Visitation will be held Friday, April 27th from 4-6pm at The Island Funeral Home and Crematory on Hilton Head Island. The funeral will be held on Saturday, April 28th at 11am at the same location. Friends and family are welcome. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Parkinson’s Foundation at Parkinson's Foundation, 200 SE 1st Street, Suite 800, Miami, FL 33131 or www.parkinson.org or a charity of one’s choice.
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