Logo Image
1996 dedication of Vita Nova

In Memoriam: Paul Wise

Friends, colleagues remember Paul Wise, UD hospitality department’s founding chair

Col. Paul E. Wise Jr., founding chair of the University of Delaware’s hospitality department, passed away peacefully on Dec. 27, 2016, at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Wilmington.

“Paul was a leader in hospitality education and a mentor to many,” said UD hospitality chair Sheryl Kline. “Through Paul’s efforts, he moved this nascent program from a trailer in Newark, Delaware, to a top hospitality management program in the country. He hired great people, inspired our students and created a curriculum that is both unique and outstanding.”

“Paul always held himself and all around him to the highest standards,” Kline continued. “He was larger than life, and I will especially miss his stories and wisdom. His legacy will live on in the Department of Hospitality Business Management and in our memories. Our hearts and thoughts go out to his wife, Caroline, and the entire Wise family. May his memory be a blessing to us all.”

A visitation will be held from 6-8 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 4, at the Daniels and Hutchison Funeral Home, 212 North Broad St., Middletown, Delaware.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 5, at the Middletown Baptist Church, 419 Armstrong Corner Road, Middletown. Interment with military honors in Arlington National Cemetery will take place at a later date.

A life of service and success

Prof. Wise was born in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania. He attended Pennsylvania Military College's Preparatory School (now Widener University) and Dickinson College, graduated with a bachelor’s in hotel and restaurant management from Penn State University, and earned an MBA from Michigan State University in food marketing.

As a quartermaster officer, he taught club management for the Army and Air Force at Fort Lee, Virginia, and ultimately became responsible for the operation of 670 Army clubs and hotels. He was instrumental in the design and construction of the Hale Koa Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii, that serves U.S. Armed Services personnel today. 

Prof. Wise was a highly decorated U.S. Army officer, achieving the rank of full colonel. He retired in 1982, but not before he was awarded two Legions of Merit, two Bronze Stars for meritorious achievement, four Army Commendation Medals, the Meritorious Unit Citation, the National Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal and the Vietnam Campaign Medal after serving two tours in Vietnam.

Prof. Wise was the 1961 recipient of the International Food Service Executives Association's first Phillip J. Connolly Award in recognition of having the Army's Best Dining Facility in a worldwide competition. He was a graduate of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the National Defense University Industrial College of the Armed Forces. Military tours of duty took him and his family to Alaska, Panama and numerous stateside installations.

Shortly after his retirement from the Army, Prof. Wise started a hotel and restaurant management program at Prince George's Community College in a suburb of Washington, D.C.

Prof. Wise launched the next step in his career when he founded, directed and chaired UD’s hospitality department. He grew the program from its infancy to national distinction as one of the best hospitality programs in the United States. After his retirement, he served as professor emeritus and ambassador for the program.

Just as Prof. Wise envisioned, today’s UD hospitality program includes learning laboratories in the forms of fine dining restaurant Vita Nova and the Courtyard by Marriott hotel, where students have opportunities to work in a live hospitality setting. Under his watch, Prof. Wise established a cooperative program with the Swiss School of Tourism and Hospitality Management in Chur, Switzerland. 

Prof. Wise was honored with the Cornerstone Award, a lifetime achievement award, by the Delaware Restaurant Association. He is also a member of the Hall of Fame for Outstanding Individual Achievement in the Governor's Tourism Awards. 

He was designated by the American Hotel and Motel Association as a certified hotel administrator, and as a certified catering executive by the National Association of Catering Executives. He was inducted into the International Military Club Executives Association Hall of Fame and became a member of the Military Club Hall of Fame. He was named the Penn State Hotel Restaurant Society Alumnus of the Year and was among People to Watch in Delaware Today. Prof. Wise received the Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitor's Bureau Tourism Superstar Award.

In 2008, upon his retirement from UD, the Prof. Paul E. Wise Scholarship was established in his honor, as was the Paul Wise Executive-In-Residence Program and distinguished speaker series at UD. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Paul E. Wise Scholarship

“Paul Wise was a visionary, a tireless proponent as the founder of our department and a caring human being for all of us around him,” said Fred DeMicco, Aramark Chair of UD’s hospitality department. “He placed his faculty, staff, students and friends above himself, allowing us to feel such pride and affection for our program.”

“I can't describe how many times he helped and supported me personally as chair,” DeMicco said. “What an innovator, mentor and friend.”

Prof. Wise is survived by his wife of 60 years, Caroline, and daughters Bethann Detwiler of Richmond, Virginia, Susan Clairmont of Elkridge, Maryland, and Amanda Milne of Gibbstown, New Jersey. He is also survived by his sister, Patricia Strickler of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and his nine grandchildren, Jason, Zachary, Caroline, Abram, Joseph, Jacob, Alexis, Haley and Adam, and four great granddaughters, Cambria, Cara, Afton and Etta.

Visit www.daniels-hutchison.com to send online condolences.

Contact Us

Have a UDaily story idea?

Contact us at ocm@udel.edu

Members of the press

Contact us at 302-831-NEWS or visit the Media Relations website