Book, documentary video on history of Woodrow Wilson Hospital

newspaper-headerFor the past many months, Nancy Sorrells and Connie Doebele have poured through historical documents and pictures, and interviewed numerous individuals for a new book and documentary video.

On November 11 at 2:00 pm, in the Harold E. Watson Auditorium at the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center, they will officially release the fruits of their labor, entitled “Hope Reborn of War,” the story of a World War II military hospital, a world famous rehabilitation center, and a unique educational community in Fishersville, VA.

At the November 11 event, which is open to the public, community members will see Doebele’s documentary video for the first time and hear highlights from the new book by Sorrells.  The WWRC Foundation will host a reception immediately following the presentation.

This project was supported by a generous grant from the Carroll and Grace “Patsy” Guynn Memorial Fund, one of several donor-advised funds at the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, to the Augusta County Historical Society.  The collaboration of Sorrells and Doebele brought together their respective strengths as story tellers.  Sorrells is well known and respected as a local historian and author.  Doebele, a former C-SPAN Executive Producer and Staunton resident, presently documents personal stories nationwide for families through video.

The catalyst for this effort was the personal ties of the Guynn family to the Woodrow Wilson medical and training-educational complex, known affectionately then as “The Post” because of its WWII military origins, and their desire to capture the stories of veterans, doctors, nurses, patients, educators and others before that remarkable history is lost.  Carroll and Patsy Guynn, career educators, lived on The Post with their three sons, Jack, Jimmy and Doug.

The Guynn brothers, who penned the Foreword to Sorrells’ book, noted that “The Post was and is so much more than a name or a place. It represents a rich and uniquely interwoven story about local, state, and national history and a singular community with a shared connection of struggles and blessings—and about hope reborn of the horrors of war and sacrifice that few of us can begin to fathom.”

After the Army closed the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Hospital at the end of World War II, representatives from Virginia’s Department of Education and Augusta County School Board submitted a plan for the use of the surplus hospital buildings to the War Assets Administration.  This led to the creation of a unique campus that includes what is now known as the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center, Wilson Memorial High School, and Valley Career and Technical Center.

The Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge is one of the largest philanthropic organizations in our region.  As it prepares to enter its 25th year of service to the community, the Foundation has grown to hold over $20 million in assets, from which it distributes over $1 million annually to the community through grants, scholarships, and awards.