Wendell Leon Hisle (b. January 6, 1925) of Lexington, KY, died on April 16, 2019. Born to Winburn Daniel and Nevah Muncie Hisle in Estill County, KY, Leon left high school to join the Navy at the height of World War II. He served off Omaha Beach at D-Day in the Naval Hospital Corps, catalyzing his interest in medicine. After the War, he returned to Kentucky and attended Centre College, where he met his wife of 65 years, Betty Jean Cundiff Hisle. After graduating from Centre in 1949, he helped build and run the Kentuckian movie theater (first film: Sands of Iwo Jima) in Liberty, KY, owned by his father-in-law, William Ralph Cundiff, and taught high school courses. He also served in the Naval Reserves and was recalled to active duty during the Korean Conflict.
Upon his admission to the newly-formed graduate program in health care administration at Duke University, Leon moved his growing family to Durham, NC, for two years, returning to Kentucky upon his graduation in 1957. He enjoyed a long and storied career as the chief executive officer for hospitals in Berea, Pineville, Ashland, Carrollton, and Louisville, KY, as well as Tabuk, Saudi Arabia. He was a Past President of the Kentucky Hospital Association; Fellow and member of the Regional Advisory Board of the American College of Health Care Executives; and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Health, London, UK. He published numerous articles in professional journals, and served on the boards of many health and community organizations. In his retirement, Leon and Betty Jean lived in Lexington, KY, and Ocala, FL.
Leon was one-of-a-kind. Tall and rangy, he was quick with a smile and always had a joke or story to share with everyone he knew and anyone he met. He loved his family, Kentucky basketball (and sometimes the Blue Devils), ice cream, country ham, a good book, a smooth bourbon, and he always carried a pocket knife—“just in case.” He was also a dedicated golfer, still playing well into his 90s and with a hole-in-one to his credit. He was well-traveled and often remarked about the wonders of the world that he had seen abroad with Betty Jean—Notre Dame de Paris, Petra, the pyramids of Giza, the Matterhorn, and the Scottish Highlands, where the “road was a ribbon of moonlight o’er the purple moor”—but he was most at home in his beloved native Kentucky.
Leon was preceded in death by his wife, Betty Jean, whom he loved passionately and beyond measure. He is survived by, and will be dearly missed by, his children, W. Lee (Julie Worthen) Hisle of Mystic, CT, Candace (Dave) Hopperton of Louisville, KY, Karen (Charles) Cocke of Newport News, VA, and Kim (Bill) Deaton of Ocala, FL; his grandchildren Keri (Brian) Scholz, Jack Hisle, Casey (Jennifer Ibrahim) Swindler, Josie (Adam) Raymond, Cassandra Schueler, Courtney (Devin) West, Charles W. (Lindsey Navin) Cocke, Virginia (CJ) Ryan, and Sylvia (Ted) Oberwager; 10 great-grandchildren; his sister, Janice Hisle Bush of Irvine, KY, niece Ellen Bush of Lexington, KY; a few golf buddies and many good friends. His granddaughter, Emily Jean Hisle, also preceded him in death.
Funeral services will be private. The family suggests memorial donations be made to Centre College, 600 West Walnut Street, Danville, KY 40422.