Randolph: Edward Wilton Forbes, M.D., a caring and devoted doctor, surgeon and community servant, died Saturday, Jan. 19. He was 73.
Born Sept. 23, 1945 in Morristown, he was the son of Edward Orestes Forbes Jr. and Carrie Mae Wilton Forbes. He was raised in the Luxemburg section of Wharton and was educated at the Wharton School, Morris Hills High School, from which he graduated as the valedictorian of the Class of 1963, and the Boston University School of Medicine, from which he earned his medical doctorate in 1969. At Boston University, he was the recipient of the prestigious Roche Prize in 1967.
After graduation, he was a resident at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan. In 1970, he was drafted into the United States Army Medical Corps. He served as a major and was stationed at the Pentagon Clinic of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C. After his Army service, he returned to St. Vincent’s and completed his residency.
Always, though, the Iron Hills of western Morris County pulled him home like a magnet.
In 1977, after completing his training as a general surgeon, he returned to Wharton, where he assumed the practice of his friend and mentor, Dr. Nicholas M. Bertha, M.D. He joined the staff of Dover General Hospital, at which he later served as president of the medical staff and as a trustee.
In 1977, at Canal Day, the annual celebration of Wharton’s history and connection to the Morris Canal, he was reintroduced to Ellen Gorman Forbes, an old friend from Morris Hills and a native daughter of the borough. She became the love of his life.
They married on Nov. 24, 1978 at St. Mary’s Church. Together, they made a home in the Mount Fern section of Randolph, where they raised their son, Edward John Forbes. They were devoted to the communities of Wharton, Dover and Randolph. Beyond his service to his patients and the hospital, he was a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, a member of the New Jersey Society of Surgeons, Alpha Omega Alpha, the Christian Medical Society, the Gideons, Acacia Lodge No. 20 of the Free and Accepted Masons, the St. Andrew’s Society of the State of New York, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and the Jockey Hollow Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.
He was the surgeon of the Wharton Fire Department and was also a member of the William J. Hocking Post 91 of the American Legion in Wharton. He was a life member of the Wharton United Community Church at St. John’s and its predecessor, Wharton United Presbyterian. Church, where he had served as an elder, a member of the session and, later, the church council.
In addition, he was a devoted member of the parents' associations at The Wilson School, Morristown-Beard School and St. Lawrence University.
Following his retirement from practice in 2003, he served as medical director for the Zufall Medical Clinic and as a consultant for the American College of Surgeons, for which he traveled the United States to certify oncological surgery programs at community and regional hospitals.
He relished his granddaughters and delighted in annual family vacations to Chatham, Massachusetts. He found endless joy in his skills as a musician — he was a talented pianist who could play the best of Scott Joplin’s rags, Frederic Chopin’s polonaises, traditional English Christmas carols and his favorite Christmas tune, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.”
In addition, he was a member of the Madison Ski Club and spent many happy weeks and weekends skiing in and around Middlebury, Vermont. He and his wife also thoroughly enjoyed their second home in Yulan, New York, where they spent many happy weeks and weekends. He also delighted in fishing, reading, smoking his pipe and developing his genealogy, which reaches across five centuries in New Jersey and New York.
He is survived by his son and his wife, Emily Hunt Forbes, of Pound Ridge, New York, as well as two granddaughters, Caroline Jane Forbes and Julia Helen Forbes. In addition, he is survived by dozens of cousins in the extended Forbes, Wilton, Salvesen, Gorman and Schiffner families.
Visitation will be at Bermingham Funeral Home, 217 S. Main Street, Wharton, from 3 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 25. A funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 26 at the Wharton United Community Church at St. John’s, 20 Church Street, Wharton. Interment will follow at Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Chester.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Boston University School of Medicine, Wharton United Community Church at St. John’s, St. Lawrence University, St. Clare’s Dover Hospital or to the Dover Renaissance.
Boston University School of Medicine
Development Office, 72 E. Concord Street, L-219, Boston MA 02118
Wharton United Community Church at St. John's
20 Church Street, Wharton NJ 07885
St. Lawrence University
23 Romoda Drive, Canton NY 13617
St. Clare's Dover Hospital
400 W. Blackwell Street, Dover NJ 07801
11 Hillsdale Dr., Dover NJ 07801