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Joan Wilson Appel


1945 - 2019 Obituary Condolences
Joan Wilson Appel Obituary
Joan Wilson Appel
1945-2019
Joan Wilson Appel, who spent her entire career as a Physician Assistant, working alongside her husband, Dr. Stanley Appel, for more than 20 years, providing hope and improving the quality of life for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, died on Friday the March 8th at Houston Methodist Hospital. She was 74.
Her husband said the cause was respiratory failure.
Joan's early career was working with Dr. Steven Greenberg at Ben Taub Hospital, conducting HIV research, participating in studies that provided a positive outcome and benefited from new therapeutic advances in AIDS. Then in 1998, she joined the Department of Neurology at Houston Methodist Hospital and the community of highly motivated professionals dedicated to patients with ALS and neurodegenerative diseases.
Joan Elizabeth Wilson was born on February 22, 1945 in Galveston, Texas. Her mother Elizabeth Dixon Wilson was in Marketing, and moved to San Antonio, where Joan graduated from Alamo Heights High School. She graduated from the University of Houston, and was in the 2nd class of graduates as a Physician Assistant at Baylor College of Medicine. After graduating, Joan joined the U.S. Army and served as a PA in Stuttgart, Germany. She was very proud of having served in the Army, and relished the lifelong friendships she made during that time. Upon returning to Houston, she rejoined Baylor College of Medicine and then joined the Department of Neurology.at Methodist Hospital.
From her early days, Joan Appel was an independent woman, and did her best to fulfill most of the lyrics from one of her favorite songs, Frank Sinatra's "My Way." "She traveled each and every highway, and more, much more than this
she did it her way." She had a passion for life, a remarkable intelligence, a warmth, wit, and wry sense of humor with a great ability to make people laugh. She kept us all humble, especially with her array of casual Friday T-shirts labeled "I don't need Google, my husband knows everything," or "Sarcasm, just one more service I offer." She especially enjoyed her repartee with Dr. Marc Boom, the President and CEO of Houston Methodist Hospital, commenting on many of the announcements emanating from his office, and earning her the nickname "Thorn."
Her major passion was working with ALS patients at Methodist Hospital, and easing their difficult journey - above all, providing them the hope that research and quality care could offer. For 18 years the Appels worked together 24/7. Not many could do this, but Joan's sense of humor and their mutual commitment made it possible.
In 2015, Joan made an unprecedented and remarkable gift, naming the Department of Neurology, the Stanley H. Appel Department of Neurology, after her husband. Dr Boom noted that "the gift was extraordinary in many ways. It's from a professional whose work inspires the utmost respect and admiration. It's also a transformational gift that will continue to grow and support the organization forever; and finally it's from a wife honoring her husband in a very unique way," The gift also created the Stanley H. Appel, M.D. Chair in Translational Neurology. Joan's legacy will live on forever as her generosity will benefit neurology patients for generations to come.
Joan made friends from around the world, as she loved to travel, and lived life to the fullest. She is predeceased by her mother, Elizabeth Dixon Wilson. Joan is survived by her beloved husband, Dr. Stanley Appel, her sister, Sheralyn Humble (Bob), her much-loved nephew and niece, Rob Humble (Nicole) and Jennifer Humble Haugh (Tim), and Stan's children, Evan Appel (Kellie), Jonathan Appel (Julie), Tanya Close, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Burial services will be private. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to MDA/ALSA ALS Clinic at Methodist Hospital, Houston, Texas, to charity animal care at Meyerland Animal Clinic, Karen Werner DVM, or to the . .
Published in Houston Chronicle on Mar. 13, 2019
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