Class  of  1951
William Gardner Rhea, Jr., M.D



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William Gardner Rhea, Jr., M.D., of Paris, TN, died at home in Easley, SC on Thanksgiving morning, November 24, 2016. His death was the result of pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that affects the lungs.

Gardner was born on Christmas Eve, 1933 to Marian Travis Green and William Gardner Rhea, Sr., M.D., who delivered him at Nobles Memorial Hospital in Paris, TN. He was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Betty Rhea Wilder.

Gardner is survived by his wife, Joan Sullivan Rhea, a brother, James Travis Rhea, M.D. of Boston, MA, four children, Alice Rhea Batey of Greenbrier, TN.; William Gardner Rhea, III (Malia) of Omaha, NE; John Campbell Rhea (Tara) of Angel Fire, NM; Charles David Rhea (Fuki) of Redmond, WA and their mother Mary Rhea Cooper of Ormond Beach, FL.

He was stepfather to his wife’s children, David Lee Watt (Leilani) of Easley, SC and Benjamin Patrick Watt (Alisha) of Pickens, SC. He was also stepfather to Beth Alexander and Stacey Carver. Gardner had nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

He attended Atkins Porter Elementary School and E. W. Grove High School. Upon graduation, Gardner attended Vanderbilt University, graduating in 1954. He subsequently continued at Vanderbilt Medical School, attaining his M.D. degree in 1958 and completing residency in Thoracic and General Surgery.

In 1964 Gardner and his family returned to Paris where he joined his father in private practice at Nobles Memorial Hospital (later renamed Rhea Clinic). In 1968 he completed a thoracic surgery fellowship at the Leeds Regional Thoracic Centre, Leeds, England. Gardner continued his practice in Paris for 12 years before moving to Greenville, SC to direct the Surgical Residency Training Program at Greenville Hospital System.

In 1994 Gardner accepted a position as Chief of Surgery at University Medical Center, Lafayette, LA, one of the Louisiana State University School of Medicine hospitals. In 2002 he retired from LSU and moved to Newland, NC in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Not satisfied with simple retirement, he continued to practice his art, serving in the outpatient surgery clinic at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Johnson City, TN and at the Community Care Clinic in Boone, NC.

He moved back to Greenville, SC in 2014. Gardner was a Diplomate of the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery and was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He was a Professor of Surgery at Medical University of South Carolina, University of South Carolina Medical School, and Louisiana State University Medical School.

Growing up Gardner enjoyed hunting and water skiing, passions he shared with his children and younger brother. He loved music and the arts and was an active member of several church choirs and community music groups throughout his life. Gardner liked and enjoyed other people. He was a good listener for his family, friends, and those who were his patients.

Memorial services for Gardner will be held at 2 pm on Saturday, December 3rd, 2016 at Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church in Boone, NC. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations in his memory to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, 230 East Ohio St., Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60601 []

reprinted from 
Paris, Tennessee
Used by Permission


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Added By  LINDELL  CHRISMAN  ('61)

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