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Emory Law News Center

McLarty 66L receives Emory University's highest honor

Michelle Valigursky |
McLarty 63C 66L
Paul McLarty 63C 66L
McLarty received the Emory Medal on October 29, 2015 (photo by Bryan Meitz)

On October 29, Emory Alumni Association welcomed two new members—Paul McLarty 63C 66L and Cecil Wilson MD 57C 61M—to the ranks of Emory Medalists, recipients of the highest honor bestowed on alumni.

With more than a combined century of service to Emory and their communities, McLarty and Wilson each have made innumerable contributions to improve the lives of others.

For the Good of the Students

Empathy is a powerful motivator, and student needs have inspired McLarty to become a benefactor through scholarship, mentorship, and leadership in law as well as in education. As one of the 2015 Emory Medalists, McLarty explains his philanthropic perspective. “We decided several years ago that our giving to Emory would be focused on scholarships.” McLarty and his wife of 41 years, Ruth, established scholarships at Emory Law School and Emory College, and also contribute to the Emory Alumni Board leadership scholarship. “It’s been really great to see kids get benefits from that.”

Though he may have been an undergrad rock star with Mac Davis and the Fabulous Cots in the 1960s, McLarty was accepted to the Emory Law School. “I decided to put my head into the wind and study and I discovered the Dean’s List and places I hadn’t spent much time before,” says McLarty, who went on to become senior partner of McLarty, Robinson & Van Voorhies.

“Through the years we’ve employed 26 Emory undergrads as paid interns in our office.” With fond recollections, McLarty says, “It’s been great watching them grow up and succeed.” 

The Emory chapter of Alpha Tau Omega stands as an example to the national fraternity due in great part to McLarty’s involvement and influence. He now serves the ATO Foundation Board and has served as alumni advisor to the group for 25 years. McLarty invested time in rebuilding a previously-failing chapter. Today, ATO at Emory consistently wins awards, and “since 2007 we have been our national organization top chapter three times.”

McLarty is the past president of the Emory Alumni Board and remains involved with university activities. He and Ruth enjoy continued contact with Emory students. “It keeps you on your toes.” 

To Benefit Global Medicine

“Being able to treat disease, to help people out, and to solve their problems was a very important part of what I wanted to be involved in,” says 2015 Emory Medalist Cecil Wilson 57C 61M of his career in medicine. Attending Emory was a family tradition, and Wilson believes his education at Emory was about “scholarship, the question of what you need to know, and how you learn how to find what you need to know.” Fresh out of medical school with his high school sweetheart-turned-wife Betty Jane Webb Wilson 58C by his side, Wilson embarked on a distinguished career in private practice medicine and governance.

His career was marked with pivotal moments. In 1967, the USS Pueblo was captured by North Korea and its crewmembers imprisoned. Upon their release a year later, Wilson “was part of the team which evaluated the crew as they came ashore.” These early experiences with treating post-traumatic stress disorder shaped Wilson’s perspective on the value of medicine.

Upon completing Navy service in 1971, Wilson established an internal medicine practice in Winter Park, Florida. As his career progressed, “It occurred to me that, as a physician, just seeing patients wasn’t enough. We needed to be involved with the system, the structure,” he said. “I entered the field of organized medicine.”

As incoming president of the American Medical Association in 2010, Wilson reported on the passage of the Affordable Care Act. “What it meant was that tens of thousands of people were able to have insurance so they would be able to live longer, be happy, and work well. For me and all of the people involved in the AMA, this was a very important part of our participation,” he says.

Among other global leadership roles, Wilson served as president of the World Medical Association during which time he traveled to six continents, sixteen countries and twenty-six nations. Through his public position in medicine, Wilson has exemplified leadership and service to communities around the world. His thoughts on retirement are clear. “I need to keep doing what I’m doing,” he says.