McLaughlin, Dr. Ralph Thomas (Tom), of Fullerton, California, passed away peacefully on March 17, at age 79.|
McLaughlin was born in Price, Utah on May 28, 1934. He graduated from Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, California, and continued on to receive a Bachelor of Arts in History from Stanford University in 1955. McLaughlin received his medical degree from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska in 1959. He served in the US Navy as Lieutenant Commander and Chief of Surgery at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital during the Vietnam War.
While taking a medical course at the University of Michigan, he met Mary-Julia (Dee) Baker, a Michigan native and UM nursing student. She appreciated his corny jokes, so on August 30, 1958, they were married in Midland, Michigan.
McLaughlin was a true force of nature who excelled at whatever he put his mind to. As an athlete, he played football at Stanford and rugby for San Francisco's Olympic Club, where he earned Player of the Year in 1962. As a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, he was recognized as a pioneer in the field and his career spanned more than 35 years.
He was a loving husband and father to five children (and two German Shepherds), as well as a master planner of family vacations to Lake Tahoe. He was a devoted, but oddly unsuccessful, annual searcher for Santa Claus with his children and many grandchildren. His ability to whistle entire arias will be missed by all.
Tom was a loyal friend and the diversity and depth of his friendships were an inspiration to his children. In retirement, he became an enthusiastic artist, often telling important and amusing stories with oil on canvas. One of his most treasured works was a series of paintings about the magnificent care given to armed forces by US Navy medical personnel in the Pacific Theater during World War Two. This series was in honor of his father, Dr. Richard Francis McLaughlin, who served as a physician on the US Navy medical ship, Bountiful, during the island campaigns. He loved to have fun and enjoyed lively conversation. If you gave him an Irish whiskey, a cigar and an audience, all was right in his world.
Tom is survived by his loving wife of 55 years, Dee; children, Dr. Ralph Thomas (Tom) McLaughlin, Jr. of Yakima, WA; Mary-Julia (Molly) Burke and her husband, Hunt, of Alexandria VA; Patrick Edward McLaughlin and his wife, Leta, of Santa Ana; Elizabeth Marie (Betsy) Medlen of Fullerton; Kerry Margaret McLaughlin of Los Angeles; 12 grandchildren; one great grand-daughter; and many other family and friends.
Tom is preceded in death by his parents, Dr. Richard Francis McLaughlin and Elizabeth (Betty) McLaughlin, and his brother, Dr. Richard Francis McLaughlin, Jr.
A memorial service will be on March 31, at 10:30 a.m. at Saint Juliana's Catholic Church in Fullerton.
In Lieu of flowers the family requests donations to the
. MCAULAY & WALLACE MORTUARY
Published in Orange County Register on Mar. 26, 2014