Yale University

In Memoriam

John S. Wilbur, Jr.

John Wilbur died on July 26, 2013. Below are the following remembrances:


The Palm Beach Post

July 28, 2013

John Wilbur
1964 graduation

John S. Wilbur, Jr. 72 years old, died July 26, 2013 at Hospice in West Palm Beach Florida.

He was born in 1941 to Atheline and John Wilbur in Cleveland, Ohio. John attended the Loomis School and graduated from Yale University in 1964 where he was captain of the wrestling team.

He served in the US Navy from 1964 to 1968, first in Underwater Demolition Team 22 and then with Seal Team 2, where he lived among the Vietnamese of the Mekong Delta. For his service he was awarded a purple heart.

John returns to Vietnam 30 years later, in 1998,
pictured on the jacket of his book Split Vision
(photo by Beverly Wilbur)

After Vietnam he graduated with a law degree from Case Western Reserve School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio. He practiced law in St. Croix, Virgin Islands as Chief Assistant United States Attorney before returning to Florida where he was a trial lawyer and partner with the law firm of Coe & Broberg, Palm Beach.

He moved back to Cleveland in 1994 where he was president of University Circle Inc., a non-profit organization.

Later he revisited Vietnam and wrote a book Split Vision in which he recalled his war experiences and commented on the people, country, and culture with poetic impressions.

45th Reunion in 2009

John and his wife Beverly lived in Palm Beach FL, Cleveland OH, Martha's Vineyard MA, and have been long-time members and residents of the Ocean Club of Florida in Ocean Ridge, Florida. He was a past president of the Yale Club of the Palm Beaches, a founding director of the National Navy UDT-Seal Museum in Ft. Pierce, and a vestry member and senior warden of Bethesda By The Sea.

He led an interesting and adventurous life. His friends were legendary and remained an active and joyous part of his difficult last years with dementia. But his family and friends were what he treasured most. He is survived by his wife Beverly of 33 years, stepdaughter Blair and husband Tim Givens, grandchildren Taylor and Jamie Givens of Palm Beach FL, stepdaughter Jill Butler, stepson Jay Butler of West Palm Beach FL, sisters Atheline Wilbur of Boston MA, Andrea and husband Sergio of Milan, Italy, Maren Wilbur of Cleveland, OH, and many nieces, nephews, and great nieces and nephews. He will always be loved by all.

A memorial celebration of his life will be held in October and announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to: Bethesda By the Sea Church, 141 S County Rd, Palm Beach, FL 33480, or Hospice of Palm Beach County, 5300 East Ave, West Palm Beach, FL 33407.


Remembrance by Coley Burke, '63

August 28, 2013

We lost our pal, John Wilbur, who died at Hospice in West Palm Beach, Florida on July 26, 2013 at 72. We remember him as captain of the wrestling team, and who can forget the toreador skills he brought back from Spain, challenging cars on Elm Street with a cape.

After college he became a member of Underwater Demolition Team 22 and Seal Team 2 in the Mekong Delta, serving from 1964 to 1968. He engaged the Vietcong in real time and came home to talk about it.

Later he became a lawyer after graduating from Case Western Reserve University Law School, practicing as chief assistant United States attorney and with the firm of Coe & Broberg in Palm Beach. John and his wife, Beverly, lived in Palm Beach, Cleveland, and Martha's Vineyard. In Palm Beach, he was past president of the Yale Club as well as senior warden of Bethesda By the Sea.

Our pal approached late life without grey hair and in fighting trim, exercising and swimming every day. He wrote a book, Split Vision, recalling his war experiences in Vietnam and association with the people, culture, and poetry.

John fought dimentia in his last years, but his wide circle of friends always came to see him. He remained friendly to the end.


Slide Show

These photos were provided by Beverly Wilbur. They are some of the photos in the slide show shown at the reception following John's memorial service in Palm Beach on October 4, 2013, at which several Yale classmates spoke, including Bob Kaiser, Mac Deford, Howard Gillette, and Steve Clay. Other classmates who attended were Sam Francis, Tom Rowe, Rick Kaminsky, Gene Van Loan, Jon McBride, and Tom Jones.

Pause the slide show by mousing over it