Outstanding Physician Honorees

For 28 years, a distinguished group of physicians has been honored with the Osteopathic Founders Foundation Outstanding Physician Award. These physicians, who are chosen by their peers, are selected for their extraordinary service to patients, to the community, to the osteopathic profession, and to the education of young osteopathic physicians. The exemplary careers of these honorees are a tribute to the history of this profession and an inspiration to their successors. We congratulate and thank all our past honorees.

2017 Outstanding Physician

Michael H. Whitworth, D.O., FACOS

Good evening; it’s my great pleasure and honor to present this award.

“Humble and Kind,” the title of a recent Tim McGraw song, but also words that describe the recipient of this year’s Osteopathic Founders Foundation, Outstanding Physician award.

Now here’s the paradox, “humble and kind,” and he’s a surgeon! Just kidding, surgeons are great people. I might need one someday, and I’ll be asleep.

He was born in Idaho and grew up in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Always a hard worker, he started working for his dad on the ranch, doing a man’s job, at the age of 9, hauling hay with a team of horses.

He played basketball in high school, and after a game at a rival school, he was introduced by his cousin to one of the cheerleaders from the other team. Now, I don’t know if he asked his cousin for the introduction or if Sheila asked for it. Maybe they’ll tell us later. In any case, the romance had begun.

He started college in 1960 at Utah State University while Sheila attended Brigham Young University, but in 1961, the education and the courtship were interrupted by an even higher calling. He was assigned a mission trip to Germany by his beloved Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, and that mission trip lasted 2.5 years. He returned in 1964, and he and Sheila were married that year. He re-entered Utah State University and obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in 1967.

Well, what was he to do with his BS degree? It so happens, another cousin (it appears cousins were instrumental in his critical life-choices); this cousin, LaMoyne Hickman DO, had introduced him to osteopathic medicine which he found very intriguing. So he entered Kansas City College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery (now Kansas City University) later that year in 1967. He graduated in 1971 and we were fortunate enough to have him choose Oklahoma Osteopathic Hospital (now Oklahoma State University Medical Center) for internship and later general surgery training. He completed his training in 1976, and was chief resident during his final year.

By 1984, just 8 years later, he became program director for the surgery residency and held that position until 2009. During that time he was closely involved in the training of almost 100 osteopathic physicians in their pursuit to become surgeons. I quote from one of his trainees, and now general surgeon, who, by the way, is the present program director of surgery, Brian Diener DO, “Many of the active surgeons in this area can trace their lineage back to some form of training provided by this man during his illustrious career.”

I want to point out that of the 25 years he was program director, he was in private practice for 16 of those years and received no remuneration for his hard and invaluable work. His dedication, however, to osteopathic medicine and our teaching hospital did not stop there. He was Chief of Surgery and served on several hospital committees including MEC and Credentials. Nationally, the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons appointed him to the Residency and Standards Committee and also to the Professors of Surgery Committee.

He has received multiple awards, but the 2 most coveted have been the A.T. Still Award of Excellence from the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association in 2010, and the Distinguished Osteopathic Surgeon Award from the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons in 2011. I could go on, but I think you get the point. He has played a huge role in the education of osteopathic physicians in general and osteopathic surgeons in particular. Through all of these accomplishments, though, he has remained genuine, courteous, humble and kind.

Surgery residents will tell you that he may have infrequently become frustrated in the surgical suite. But during those times, and they were few, I’m told the residents knew he or she were in big trouble when he’d say in a most exasperated tone, “Golly.” That’s the worst they ever heard, even in the most difficult of situations.

Now, for some reason, I think simply to show that we’re all human, I feel compelled to tell you a story related to me by Sheila. It happened shortly after they were married on a hot summer day while he was helping his dad on the ranch. He had come back to their trailer-home much earlier than expected. His face was covered in dirt, streaked with sweat, and he was visibly dazed. There was a big tire mark running up one side of his body. Sheila exclaimed, “Oh my God, what happened?!” To which he replied, “The son-of-a-bitch ran over me!” He had been cutting grain or tall grass with a machine called a swather, and a large rock was in the way so he got off the swather to move the rock, and, well, the… I guess even the best of God’s children can have, on occasion, a small divergence.

As I close let me read to you the lyrics of the second verse of Tim McGraw’s song which I mentioned earlier:

“Hold the door, say please, say thank you,
Don’t steal, don’t’ cheat, and don’t lie.
I know you got mountains to climb, but
Always stay humble and kind.
When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you,
When the work you put in is realized,
Let yourself feel the pride, but
Always stay humble and kind.”

I present to you the man who epitomizes these words and the 2017 Outstanding Physician, Michael H Whitworth DO, FACOS.

As presented by Kenneth Calabrese, D.O.

 

Past Honorees

2016 ~ J. Martin Beal, D.O.
2015 ~ W.W. sTOEVER, D.O.

2014 ~ Tom A. Hamilton, D.O.
2013 ~ Stanley E. Grogg, D.O.
2012 ~ Arthur G. Wallace, Jr., D.O.
2011 ~ George E. Erbacher, D.O.
2010 ~ J. Harley Galusha, D.O.

2009 ~ DONALD M. DUSHAY, D.O.
2008 ~ JOSEPH J. BACK, D.O.
2007 ~ Michael P. Carney, D.O.

2006 ~ Steven C. Buck, D.O.
2005 ~ Richard R. Polk, D.O.
2004 ~ Dean R. Fullingim, D.O.
2003 ~ Larry J. Dullye, D.O.

2002 ~ HAROLD L. BATTENFIELD, D.O.
2001 ~ R. Michael Eimen, D.O.

2000 ~ Beverly J. Mathis, D.O.
1999 ~ James S. Seebass, D.O.
1998 ~ Kenneth E. Calabrese, D.O.
1997 ~ David F. Hitzeman, D.O.
1996 ~ Dan H. Fieker, D.O.

1995 ~ Robert S. Lawson, D.O.
1994 ~ James D. Edwards, D.O.
1993 ~ B.B. Baker, D.O.
1992 ~ Walter F. Kempe, D.O.
1991 ~ Joseph A. Keuchel, D.O.
1990 ~ Ebb W. Reeves, D.O.