William Q. Wu, who practiced as a neurosurgeon in the Kansas City area from 1950 to his retirement in 1991, has died of pneumonia at 102, June 18, 2013. Upon his arrival in Kansas City in 1950, with his wife, Cecile F. "Frankie" Wu, he broke the color line in Kansas City's segregated medical profession when he was accepted into the Jackson County Medical Society and allowed to practice in area hospitals. The son of an Imperial Scholar, Wu immigrated to the U.S. from China at the age of 11. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Michigan. While there, he met Cecile, a fellow student who had grown up in Ann Arbor. During WWII, though Asian immigrants were forbidden by law from becoming naturalized American citizens, Wu volunteered for the Army in 1943, when doctors from Allied nations were allowed to join. He served in Burma and China and was awarded the Bronze Star for treating wounded under fire. When the war ended, he happened to be on leave, visiting Cecile in Washington, D.C. They were married Aug. 19, 1945. After starting his private practice in Kansas City, their first son, William Franking Wu, was born in 1951. In 1954, the family moved to a house in Prairie Village where they lived until 2007. Their second son, Christopher Nelson Wu, was born in 1957. In the 1960s, Wu received neurosurgical referrals from the Kansas City Chiefs. The players he treated included guard Ed Budde, future film star Fred Williamson, and linebacker Willie Lanier. Also during the 1960s, Wu began sponsoring several nieces and nephews, who were in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, to come to the U.S. and go to college. After travel to China opened up in the 1970's, Bill and Cecile participated in many goodwill exchanges, in which Americans visited China and Chinese visitors came to the U.S. He expressed his belief at the time that medicine transcended issues of culture and politics. Over the years, they visited many Chinese cities, visited his relatives in the village where he was born, and journeyed to Tibet. In 1996, Wu published his memoir, Monsoon Season. Cecile died in 2009 in Prairie Village after which Wu moved to Lafayette, Calif. He is survived by William F. Wu, a science fiction writer and newspaper editor; Christopher N. Wu, a lawyer, and his wife Jenny and son Michael, an attorney and lieutenant in the Army Reserve. Donations in Dr. Wu's honor may be made to the William Q. Wu Merit Scholarship Fund c/o UMKC Foundation, 202 Administrative Center, 5100 Rockhill Rd., Kansas City, MO 64110. The scholarship was created in 1990 to promote U.S.-China student exchanges and intercultural relations. Services will be at 2 p.m. on the deceased's birthday, Nov. 11, 2013, at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 6401 Wornall Terr., Kansas City, MO 64113.
Published in Kansas City Star on Jun. 30, 2013.