John Sessions Wellington
Sept. 28, 1921-Dec. 29, 2010
Dr. John S. Wellington passed away peacefully at the age of 89 in his Glen Ellen home on Dec. 29, 2010.
He was born in Glendale, the only child of George and Florence Wellington, who were both in their 40s at that time. John spent most of his childhood in Southern California, starting school in the small San Diego County town of Rainbow, and spending summers in San Clemente, where he developed a love of the ocean that stayed with him his entire life. He enjoyed sailing, swimming, body surfing , snorkeling and scuba diving. John was always tall for his age and got his first driver's license at age 12 in order to drive to and from work during the Great Depression. After graduating from Glendale High School he spent part of a year in New York with relatives before entering UC Berkeley in the fall of 1938. After earning his bachelor's degree he started medical school on the same Berkeley campus, where at that time UC San Francisco medical students did their first year of classes. John was enlisted as a lieutenant JG in a United States Navy program that rushed students through medical school in three years, and received his MD mere weeks before the end of World War II.
After an internship at the United States Navy Hospital in Oakland, John completed residencies in both surgery and pathology at UCSF and went on to board certification in both disciplines. He was a faculty member at UCSF for 25 years, and during that time also worked at Franklin Hospital, San Francisco General and Fort Miley Veteran's Hospital. John was also active in medical school administration, and that ultimately became the focus of his career. He served as associate dean of student affairs at UCSF and head of the admissions committee. He was a key member of a team that developed an extremely successful affirmative action program in the 1960s, graduating significant numbers of Black, Latino and Native American physicians and a majority of women physicians for the first time in the history of UCSF.
John met Mary Jane Evans, of San Mateo, in 1943 on a blind date arranged by his childhood best friend and by Mary Jane's college roommate, who were dating at the time (and who remain married today). John and Mary Jane were married in 1944 and moved to Sausalito a few years later, where they lived for 30 years and raised their children, Peter and Ann.
In the early years in Sausalito, John was involved in community life there, taking part in Little Theater productions and becoming a member of the school board, where he was an advocate for the integration of the Sausalito Public School System. John and Mary Jane also traveled whenever possible, and lived overseas during John's sabbaticals from UCSF. In 1957-58, John taught pathology at the University of Indonesia as part of a cooperative program between that institution and UCSF. He went on to become associate coordinator of that program, making many trips to Indonesia in that capacity and as a consultant to the Agency for International Development. Subsequent sabbaticals took the Wellington family to Malaysia in 1967-68 and to Indonesia again in 1975-76.
In 1978, John and Mary Jane moved to Hawaii where John was associate dean of the University of Hawaii Medical School and developed a program to train doctors for the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, the Micronesian island groups spread throughout the Pacific that were placed under United States administration after World War II. John loved traveling to places like Truk, Pohnpei, Yap, Kosrae, Palau, the Marshalls and more, where he had opportunities to sail, scuba dive on World War II wrecks and participate in local rituals.
When John finally "retired," it was to the vineyard in Glen Ellen where he started Wellington Vineyards in partnership with his son Peter, completing construction of a winery in time for the 1989 vintage.
After Mary Jane passed away in 1990, John continued to indulge his love of travel, going to Machu Picchu, Costa del Sol and the Turquoise Coast and revisiting Greece, Bali, France, Croatia and other places he had visited previously. He also had the opportunity for extended sailing trips across most of the Pacific Ocean and in the Mediterranean, and spent several weeks each winter on Maui, where he had a small condo.
John is survived by his daughter, Ann, and her partner, Tom Burgess, of San Francisco; his son, Peter, and daughter-in-law, Jane Wellington, of Sonoma; and granddaughters, Claire and Grace Wellington.
The family requests that any donations be made in John's name to the University of California, Berkeley scholarship fund.
A memorial gathering will take place at a later date.