Dr. David Cole Wilson, 88, professor emeritus of neurology and founder of the department of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Virginia Medical School, died Thursday at a nursing home in Charlottesville after a stroke.

He joined the faculty of the medical school as an associate professor of neurology in 1929 and became a professor six years later. He founded the department of neurology and psychiatry in 1929 and remained its chairman until retiring in 1957.

In 1976, after working for a number of years in his field in California and Alabama, Dr. Wilson returned to Charlottesville, where he was director of education and research at the David C. Wilson Neuropsychiatric Hospital, a private facility established by some of his former students in 1972 and later renamed in his honor.

Dr. Wilson was born in Chattanooga, Tenn. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1912 and got his medical degree there in 1919. He served in the Army medical corps in World War I.

He took further studies at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, the University of Pennsylvania and the Phipps Clinic of Johns Hopkins University. From 1921 to 1926, he was on the staff of the Clifton Springs Sanitarium in New York, where he formed a department of neurology and psychiatry.

At the time of Dr. Wilson's retirement in 1957, the Society of Colleagues and Alumni of the Department of Psychiatry was founded in his honor.

Dr. Wilson was a founder and past president of the Virginia Neuropsychiatric Society, a speaker of the assembly and vice president of the American Psychiatric Association and a past president of the Southern Psychiatric Association.He was a fellow of several other professional organizations.

His wife, the former Elizabeth Jackson, died in 1971.

He is survived by a son, Dr. David C. Jr., of Morristown, N.J.; three daughters, Betty Harden of Roanoke, Molly Miller of Charlottesville, and Patricia Congdon of St. Louis; 13 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the David C. Wilson Chair of Psychiatry, University of Virginia Medical School Foundation, Box 324, University Medical Center, Charlottesville, 22908.