Celebrating Dr. Joseph Ashby Wiltshire
Having delivered close to 2,500 babies in Lake Wales, Dr. Joseph Ashby Wiltshire helped make a lot of people smile. He was the first black doctor to open a private medical practice in Lake Wales in 1948.
It’s noted Dr. Wiltshire took an oath to serve people. He was known for caring about the welfare of others regardless of their ability to pay at time of treatment.
“He would go from house to house caring for people that were ill bound,” Dorothy Scott-Wilson, development director of the Dr. J. A. Wiltshire foundation said. “He was a true philanthropist,” Scott-Wilson noted.
Scott-Wilson was one of the babies delivered by Dr. Wiltshire.
Prior to becoming a doctor, Dr. Wiltshire served in the Army achieving the rank of a second lieutenant. During his service, he started medical school and graduated in 1947. Shortly after, he worked as the director of student health at Florida A&M University.
In the 1950s, Dr. Wiltshire took an interest in aerospace medicine. He became an aviation medical examiner, and he used his skills to certify pilots as aviation doctors in central Florida.
Dr. Wiltshire was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, established in 1906. Notable members included Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Justice Thurgood Marshall and Duke Ellington, American composer.
In 1984, Dr. Wiltshire was the recipient of the annual medical award of the Polk County Chapter of the United Negro College Fund.
Dr. Wiltshire was named Lake Wales Citizen of the Year in 1988. In 2004, a street in Lake Wales was named in honor of the doctor — Dr. J. A. Wiltshire Avenue.