John Lemuel Wooten was born in 1924 to William Isler and Pattie (Bruce) Wooten. He earned both his undergraduate and M.D. degree from Duke University, the latter in 1947. Wooten did his post-graduate training at Emory University, Baltimore City Hospital, and Kernan's Hospital for Crippled Children. During his years in Baltimore, he met and later married Harriet Lamont Husted. He served on active duty during the Korean War as a Captain and Chief of Orthopedics in the Army Medical Corps at Camp Polk, Louisiana, and later at Fort Gordon, Georgia. The couple and their first two sons moved to Greenville in 1955 after he was discharged from the Army. There, Wooten opened his office on Greene Street and established the first orthopedic surgery practice in eastern North Carolina.
During his professional career, Wooten served as Professor and Chief of the Division of Orthopedic Surgery at the East Carolina University School of Medicine, President of the Pitt County Medical Society, and two term member of the Board of Trustees of Pitt County Memorial Hospital. During his tenure as Chief of Staff at Pitt County Memorial Hospital, he was instrumental in negotiating the affiliation agreement between the hospital and the new medical school. His civic interests included serving as Chairman of the Greenville Housing Authority, President of the Greenville Rotary Club, and as a founding member of the Greenville Foundation. He was an active member of St. paul's Episcopal Church, serving on the vestry and as Senior Warden.
He and his wife had four sons: John L. Jr., David, Daniel, and Henry. John died on 4 December 2004 in Greenville, North Carolina.