Dr. Neal Kirkpatrick passed away at home in the wee hours of Sunday, Feb. 12. The second of five sons of Robert Bruce and Caroline (Nelson) Kirkpatrick, he was born in Richland Center, Wis., on July 5, 1919. During the Great Depression, the family moved to Baraboo to be closer to family. Realizing that a college education was the ticket into the middle class, they eventually relocated to Madison so the boys could attend the U of Wisconsin.
Neal met his bride Ethel Carola Hull, at the Wesley Methodist Foundation House at the (other) UW. They married in 1944 and in 1945, headed to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He was a Senior Cardiology Associate in 1948 and then briefly worked for a clinic in Lincoln, Neb.
In 1949, he joined fellow Mayo alum, surgeon Dr. Fred Parke in Longview. In 1952, Dr. Neal entered the Air Force and was sent (with family) to Elmendorff AFB near Anchorage, to be chief of medicine at USAF 5005th Hospital. After being discharged in 1955, Neal returned to Longview where he and Dr. Wendell, his youngest brother, practiced until Wendell retired in1997. Neal retired in 2007.
Dr. Neal served as chief of medicine, medical staff president, and director of education at St. John’s during his 50-plus years on staff. He created the first Coronary Care Unit in Southwest Washington and made sure all 25 beds on the heart ward were equipped with heart monitors which saved many lives. Dr. Neal believed in sharing medical information with all staff, not just doctors. Hence he published a weekly “Second Opinion” summary of 20-25 new journal articles and arranged “Tuesday Noon Roundtable” lectures featuring local and regional speakers. He also brought in national heart experts to speak at the annual Heart Association banquet.
Dr. Neal was also passionate about music. He conducted the Anchorage Symphony and Chorus and the Longview Community Church Temple Singers and Orchestra for 50 years and 120-plus performances of Handel’s “Messiah,” patriotic concerts and oratorios. Dr. Neal performed flute in musical groups in Madison including the Radio Hall Firemen, chamber ensembles and orchestras. He played with The Ice Capades in Minneapolis, and here in Longview with the Lower Columbia Symphonic Band, Southwest Washington Symphony, Northwest Wind Ensemble and numerous other groups.
“Grandpa Doc” was an avid tennis player. He also enjoyed table games and dominoes with family of all generations, and leading singing at the Early Morning Rotary Club and at Seabeck Family Camp which the extended family attended for 50 consecutive summers.
His parents are gone, and brothers Bob, Don and Vernon, as well as Ethel and daughter Jane, are reunited with him in Heaven these days. Surviving family members include his wife, Carolyn, and brother Wendell in Longview; two sons, Richard (Susie) in Longview, and John (Cori) in Seattle; a daughter, Carol (Russ Rhodes) in Columbia, S.C.; a son-in-law, Chuck Galliher in Phoenix; his grandchildren, Jim, Ron, Dave, Mary, Scotty, Christie and Brad Kirkpatrick, Jill Piasecki, Julie Haley, Wes Galliher, Jen Moline, and Kirk, Mark and Erik Rhodes; and his 27 great-grandchildren.
Neal’s memorial service is planned for 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Longview Community Church. It will include a musical tribute of his favorite patriotic and Messiah pieces.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to The Salvation Army, FISH, Longview Community Church, or Kirkpatrick Family Care Foundation.