Donald Lee Posthumus, M.D.|
July 10, 1942 - February 25, 2013
Resident of San Jose
A well-respected fixture in the South Bay medical community for over 35 years, Donald Lee Posthumus passed away on Feb 25, concluding a courageous battle with mantle cell lymphoma. Don's final hours were spent surrounded by family, friends, and colleagues, as were the entirety of his 70 years.
Born in Indiana, Don moved with his family to LA when he was 14. From the beginning he exhibited an intellectual curiosity that would become a driving force in his life, and much of his youth was occupied in the twin pursuits of music and science, themes that would persist throughout his years. After graduating from University High School, Don enrolled at UC Santa Barbara. Though he initially considered a career in botany, Don focused his academic efforts on realizing his goal of becoming a doctor. And while he never lost his passion for plants and gardening - his hybrid fruit trees, homemade applesauce, cherry-plum wine, and carefully cultivated tulips stand as evidence - his true passion, manifested over the next 45 years, was medicine.
Don discovered his other life-long passion making monkey faces outside the UCLA chimpanzee lab. Her name was Sherry Rose, and while it took nearly an entire summer, they finally managed to share the same elevator, and would go on to share 40 wonderful years of marriage. Their journey started in San Francisco, where Don completed medical school at UCSF. They then headed east, with Don studying and working at Dartmouth while Sherry earned her masters at Smith College. Don then began a stint in the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg, NC where their daughter Lisa was born, before moving on to Walter Reed in Washington D.C., where they welcomed their second daughter, Jennifer. Don concluded his military service in Fort Huachuca, AZ before the family returned to California, making brief stops in LA and Sacramento before settling in San Jose in 1977.
Despite claiming to be the only student to ever spend four years in Santa Barbara and never see the beach, Don enjoyed an active, outdoor lifestyle with his family. Whether exploring the hills with their German shorthaired pointers, rafting down the American River, or making certain they were the first skiers on the lift in the morning and the last ones down the mountain in the afternoon, Don shared endless outdoor adventures and activities with his family. He was a tireless supporter of their numerous athletic endeavors, and legendary as an easy mark at school fund-raising auctions. He was the constant good-natured target of practical jokes in the home, an energetic dancer, and never took a bad picture.
Don left an indelible mark on the South Bay medical community. He touched innumerable lives as a physician, mentor and colleague. But his love of medicine paled in comparison to his love of family, and in 2006 he retired his practice, dedicating his life to caring for Sherry in her losing battle with brain cancer. While devastated by the loss of the love of his life, Don channeled Sherry's energy and joy, fusing it with his own gifts, as a loving and cherished "Papa", adored by his 3 grandchildren, Nathan (13), Josh (10) and Jessica (4).
In his final years, Don found joy and companionship with Kathie Joos, who helped him find his smile again, enjoying trips to Tahoe, a cruise to Alaska, and frequent evenings out with great friends. She was an invaluable source of support during his battle with cancer.
Don was curious, passionate, intelligent, loyal, generous, and kind. He was a man of great will - despite a severe fear of heights, he scaled Half Dome and was a licensed pilot - and character. He lived a bountiful life, leaving the world a better place for his presence. He is loved, and he is greatly missed.
Don was preceded in death by his wife Sherry. He is survived by daughters Lisa and Jennifer Posthumus, sons-in-law Danny Milgram and Kris Atteberry, grandchildren Nathan and Josh Milgram, and Jessica Atteberry, his mother-in-law Betty Rose, and companion Kathie Joos. Additionally, Don is survived by siblings James Posthumus, Margorie Whitney and Carolyn McClure, their spouses, Carol, Ron and Jay, and numerous nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers or a funeral, the family has requested that those who knew him please share memories and stories about Don by emailing them to InMemoryOfDonPosthumus@gmail.com. The stories will be compiled into a collection to help preserve Don's memory for future generations. Donations may be made to LRF at www.lymphoma.org
Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on Mar. 3, 2013