Published on August 10, 2021 by Ashley Smith  
Bunch headshot

Dr. Wilton Bunch passed away on May 16, 2021. “Wilton will be remembered for his stellar intellect, wide range of accomplishments, and remarkably varied career,” said Dr. Mike Hardin, Samford’s provost.  He not only served as an orthopedic surgeon and academic dean of two medical schools but was also an ordained Episcopal priest and university professor. His four advanced academic degrees (Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Philosophy, M.B.A. and Master of Divinity) reflect his lifelong thirst for knowledge and his passion for teaching. Bunch published six books, 118 peer-reviewed articles and 28 book chapters, in addition to many other accomplishments. 

School of the Arts Dean Joseph Hopkins called him, “A Renaissance man of both the arts and sciences who inspired us with his faith and imagination. He was an inspiration and an encourager.”

Wilton also made significant contributions to Samford after joining Beeson Divinity School in 2000. After six years at Beeson, Wilton taught medical ethics in Samford’s Department of Philosophy, Scientific Inquiry in the University Fellows Program, served as a fellow in Samford’s Health, Ethics and the Law Institute, established the Samford Interdisciplinary Faculty Fellowship, advised students in the pre-med program, and invested himself in countless students. He generously supported the School of the Arts. Wilton had a lifelong interest in music. In his late 60’s he learned to play the double bass so he could play in the Samford University Orchestra. He also endowed both the Samford String Quartet and a scholarship in the low strings in honor of his daughter Brenda. 

This spring, several string students from the School of the Arts provided an outside concert for Wilton and his wife Vicki at their home. “Your gift of the student concert was on the last good day he spent on this earth. Your thoughtfulness made it even more special. Thank you for your friendship toward him and for your gifts of music to enrich our lives,” said Vicki. 

The funeral service for Wilton Bunch was held Saturday July 17th at 2 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church in Birmingham.  The School of the Arts plans to celebrate his life and contributions to the School of the Arts at the Samford String Quartet concert on Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in Brock Recital Hall.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.