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What's Up Magazine

A Life Well Lived

Apr 28, 2014 02:59PM ● By Cate Reynolds

BWMC volunteer extraordinaire Wilson Hebron with his wife Emma

By Sarah Hagerty

When the good folks at Baltimore Washington Medical Center need special help with a project or event, Wilson Hebron is their go-to guy.

If there’s a health fair in Severna Park—Wilson is there to greet and guide the public. If a free blood pressure or cholesterol screening is scheduled at the mall, you can bet this dapper gentleman will organize the eager public and turn them into an orderly, lighthearted procession. And he’ll do it with kindness, professionalism, and a bit of good-natured kidding. “Don’t worry,” he tells a waiting patient, “That long rusty needle won’t hurt at all.” He says this with a warm, contagious, and slightly devilish smile that lights up his face. And the faces of those around him.

The urge to help and guide comes naturally to Wilson. His parents were both lifelong educators in Anne Arundel County schools. (Frank Hebron-Harman Elementary School in Hanover is named in his father’s honor.) This makes Wilson something you don’t often meet in this age of company transfers, military postings, and wanderlust—he’s an Anne Arundel County native. He’s lived all his 73 years (“Let’s call it 37,” he says grinning) in and around the Hanover area. He’s shared 52 of those years with his wife Emma.

As we sit chatting in a restaurant across the street from Arundel Mills, I ask him what’s changed the most in the county over the years. He doesn’t hesitate. “Right here!” he exclaims. “Nothing here now was here when I grew up,” he says. “There used to be a Sinclair gas station just about here” where he worked as a kid. (That’s right. Sinclair.)

But he turns more introspective for a moment. “And, of course, back in those days, Maryland was segregated. And there was busing,” he remembers. Something he was all too familiar with—the teen from Hanover was bused every day to Annapolis. The Annapolis Senior Center/Boys & Girls Club complex on Smithville Street was once his school. “The Hippodrome in Baltimore,” he continues, “celebrated an anniversary recently [100 years]. We weren’t allowed in there.”

When he grew up, Wilson had a full career as a “civil servant” with the Department of Defense. “But I can’t tell you what I did, or I’d have to shoot you,” he says smiling. (Not too sure he was kidding about that one.) It was bilateral knee replacement surgery in 2000 that prompted his involvement with Baltimore Washington Medical Center. Even with arthritis, sciatica, spine problems, and those nagging knees, Wilson realized just how lucky he was and felt compelled to start lightening other people’s burdens. He admits to being blessed with a wonderful extended family that includes his much cared-for caregiver wife, an attentive son, in-laws, cousins, surrogate grandchildren, and friends.

As we leave the restaurant, Wilson gathers up his cane and, because it is a very windy day, his rolling walker. It’s clear he’s in some discomfort. But seeing the light in his eyes, and feeling the joy in his heart, I can’t help but be envious.

If reading about this admirable man motivates you to help out your community, please contact the nonprofit of your choice and volunteer your time, talent and enthusiasm. And if you know of an unsung volunteer who should be profiled, email