Dr. Philip Arthur Wales, Captain in the United States Navy, beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, was called home on Monday, June 26 at the age of 98 years and two weeks.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years Mary Elizabeth Schneider Wales, along with their three children, nine grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Living a full 98 years leaves
you with few contemporaries, so Dr. Wales remedied this by continually making younger friends. Thus, ensuring his influence will now live on for generations.
Dr. Wales was a life long healer, graduating from the University of Texas Medical School in three years, an accelerated program that allowed him to get to the Pacific theater by the height of World War II. Most of Dr. Wales’ active duty time was spent on the island of Ulithi, the westernmost of the Caroline islands, east of the Philippines. In addition to treating and healing U.S. soldiers, Dr. Wales spent his spare time healing the natives of Ulithi. He made quick friends with the Chief, but he especially loved the island children, who would help him on his rounds by distributing vitamins.
Dr. Wales returned to the United States in December, 1945 and continued to serve as a doctor in the Naval Reserve until his retirement 30 years later, attaining the rank of Captain. In 1948, Dr. Wales began his private practice in Lockhart, Texas with Drs. O.K. Dubois and Abner Ross. On one of his regular rounds at the Lockhart Hospital, Dr. Wales was introduced to a cute young nurse named Elizabeth Schneider, head of the OR. He knew better than to let her go, and soon after asked for her hand in marriage.
Born on June 12, 1919, Dr. Wales was the son of Prosper and Ruth Wales. He grew up in Florence, Texas as the son of a banker during the height of the Great Depression. He learned by watching his father; when times got tough, Prosper loaned money to farmers for crops and seeds. Dr. Wales continued this legacy by never taking payment from patients if they did not have it to spare. He accepted payments in the form of tomatoes, tamales, corn, whatever you had to give. By way of example, one of his prized possessions to his last day was a cowboy hat given to him as payment for delivering his nephew in the 1950’s. He most recently wore this beloved hat to his granddaughter’s wedding.
Dr. Wales delivered hundreds of Caldwell County citizens, and hundreds more owe their lives to his skills as a physician, surgeon, and obstetrician. He loved seeing his patients and friends around town, and could tell countless stories of the day he birthed them, or embarrassing tales from their childhood. His memory was impeccable, so you could always count on Dr. Wales to recognize you.
Even though he was busy with his medical practice and naval career, Dr. Wales wanted to dedicate even more of his time to his beloved community. He co-founded the Lockhart State Bank in 1957 with his friend Newton Wilson, and continued to serve on its Board of Directors for 50 years. Concurrently, Dr. Wales served many years on the Lockhart Independent School Board. Unsurprisingly to his family, he was voted Most Worthy Citizen of Lockhart in 1986.
Dr. Wales was unfailingly kind, a trait often overlooked. He loved to solve crossword puzzles and read four newspapers a day. A dedicated grandfather, he went to extraordinary heights for the smallest of wishes. There was a period of time that had him eating lunch at McDonald’s every day for a month, just to collect all the Happy Meal Beanie Babies for his granddaughters.
Much to the delight of his grandchildren, in the last four years he created an Instagram account that he ran from his iPad. Originally intended just as a way to keep up with his family’s photos, the account became a monument to a man who had seen so much technological progress over the course of his lifetime. He occasionally would accidentally upload photos of his shoes, the ceiling, or the top of his head. How can you blame a man who was born into a decade whose greatest innovation was the talking motion picture. We loved these posts, and wouldn’t let him delete them.
A visitation will be held by the family at McCurdy Funeral Home, 105 E. Pecan St., Lockhart, on Thursday, June 29 from 5-7 p.m. Dr. Wales’ funeral will be at 10 a.m. on Friday at the First United Methodist Church of Lockhart, 313 W. San Antonio St. Reverend Rob Clopton and Reverend Bob Haley will officiate the service. In lieu of flowers, you may send donations to the Lockhart Church of Christ or the Dr. Eugene Clark Library.