Many people called him "the best brain surgeon in the world," but friends in his hometown of Neosho just called him "Charlie."

Many people called him "the best brain surgeon in the world," but friends in his hometown of Neosho just called him "Charlie."
Dr. Charles Byron Wilson, 88, died on Feb. 24 from natural causes. He is survived by his wife, Francis, three children and six grandchildren. One son, Craig, died in 1983.
Wilson was born on August 31, 1929, in Neosho and graduated from Neosho High School in 1947. As a young man, he was a fine musician and a good athlete, lettering in basketball and football. His father, Byron, was a pharmacist, and his mother, Margaret, worked in the family's drugstore.
Upon graduation from high school, Wilson planned to seek a degree in Christian ministry but changed his mind and attended Tulane University, earning a degree in medicine. specializing in brain surgery. His musical talent allowed him play Dixieland Jazz in a French Quarter nightclub in New Orleans.
In an interview with the Neosho Daily News in 1999, he remembered that his father greatly admired two Neosho doctors, Dr. Melvin C. Bowman and Dr. Onal A. Sale. He also said in that interview that he loved growing up in Neosho, noting, "Neosho was a place where you trusted everyone….It was where you could go fishing or swimming every day if you wanted to."
As a doctor, researcher, professor and philanthropist, he was respected, honored and loved around the world. The New Yorker magazine in 1996 said of Dr. Wilson, "Neurosurgery is generally thought to attract the most gifted and driven medical school graduates. Even in that rarefied world, however, there are surgeons who are superstars and surgeons who are merely very good. Charlie Wilson is one of the superstars.…"
Proud of his Cherokee heritage, Wilson's 2011 biography, written by Dr. Brian T. Andrews. was entitled "Cherokee Surgeon." He was also chosen as the first recipient of the Neosho Alumni of the Year.
Wilson retired from his position at the University of California, San Francisco in 2002.