Donor Story

Giving Back for Good Lives

Dr. Robert and Carolyn Waddell are long-time Virginia Beach residents.

Hampton Roads has been good to Dr. Robert and Carolyn Waddell. The couple grew up in Galax but moved to Virginia Beach in 1965 when Robert joined what is now Atlantic Orthopaedic Specialists.

The Waddells raised their four children in Virginia Beach, where he practiced orthopedic surgery for 27 years before retiring.

“I saw Virginia Beach as an evolving opportunity,” he says. “With a new hospital under construction, it was a superb opportunity to be on the ground floor of a practice in orthopedics.” He joined a one-year-old practice that was the first orthopedic group in Virginia Beach.

In 2017, the couple created a legacy that will last forever by starting a donor-advised fund at the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. “We started thinking how to give back to our community and wanted something flexible,” Robert says. “We decided to get started now.”

Over the decades, the Waddells have helped others in many ways -- through their church, volunteering at a free health clinic, leading a driver safety program and supporting scholarships at Eastern Virginia Medical School and the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.

The Waddells married after Carolyn’s graduation from Radford University and during Robert’s last year at Wake Forest University. Their four children were born in Richmond while he was studying at the Medical College of Virginia (now the VCU School of Medicine) and in a five-year orthopedic residency there.

“Working in medicine was always my objective,” says Robert, whose mother was a nurse and father a physician. “I remember making house calls with my dad. I was always intrigued by medicine.”

In addition to his medical practice, Robert also was a Virginia Department of Health medical examiner for several years. The aftermath he witnessed following horrendous traffic accidents inspired him to create a highway safety program.

Most of the “significant auto accidents were caused by someone going too fast,” he says. He documented accident scenes with photos and turned them into a presentation he showed at every high school in Virginia Beach and also to area Rotary and Kiwanis clubs.

“I wanted to teach drivers to be careful,” says Robert, who served on the Governors Highway Safety Commission, chaired a Medical Society of Virginia Highway Safety Commission and helped found the Virginia Beach Safety Council.

After retirement, Robert volunteered at the Beach Health Clinic for several years. Today, his skills with precision tools are put to good use in his home workshop, where he turns wood to create intricate bowls and containers. The Waddells enjoy supporting causes they care about and spending time with their children and 12 grandchildren. Both are active at Francis Asbury United Methodist Church. Carolyn recently retired after singing in the church choir for 50 years. She continues to knit prayer shawls and christening blankets with a church group.

If you're interested in starting a donor-advised fund at the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, contact Kay Stine at or (757) 622-7951. You can also learn more here.

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