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Thomas Gooch Parker

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Thomas Gooch Parker, MD
1925 - 2013

Thomas Gooch Parker, MD, a longtime resident of Hillsborough, California died on April 7, 2013 after a prolonged illness. He was born on August 27, 1925 in Dallas, Texas where he lived until his graduation from Highland Park High School. His parents, Buford M. and Opal-Love Burckhalter Parker were born, respectively, in the Chickasaw and Cherokee nations in Oklahoma's pre-statehood Indian Territory, and Tom spent many happy summers in his youth at his maternal grandparents' farm, Breezehill, in Vinita, Oklahoma.

He was educated at the University of Texas, Mercer University and Harvard Medical School where he received his medical degree in 1949. After surgical training at the Massachusetts Memorial Hospital in Boston, he received Specialty Boards in both General and Thoracic Surgery, and as an Instructor in Surgery, taught at Boston University School of Medicine.

He served in WW II and the Korean War in both the U.S. Navy and Air Force. During the Korean War, he was a medical officer assigned to the Central Intelligence Agency, serving in Washington, DC and in Korea as a surgeon in Mobile Army Surgical Hospital [MASH] units.

It was while stationed in Washington, DC, that he met the love of his life, Martha Lee Reams, whose father was serving in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the Ninth Congressional District of Ohio. Tom and Martha Lee were married in 1953 and lived in Boston and Lubbock, Texas before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1958 and eventually settling in Hillsborough where they raised their three children.

Tom joined the San Mateo Medical Clinic in 1958 and later had a private surgical practice until his retirement in 1991. He was on the staffs of Peninsula and Mills Hospitals, serving as Chief of Surgery at Mills, as well as on Stanford Medical School's clinical faculty in the Department of Surgery. He was a Fellow of the American College of Surgery, and a member of the San Francisco Surgical Society, the Aesculapian Club of Boston and the Royal Society of Medicine in Great Britain. In retirement, he was an early founder of the Samaritan House free clinic of San Mateo and a Trustee of both the Mills-Peninsula Hospital and San Mateo County Health Foundations. He actively volunteered time to those and numerous other community organizations throughout his life.

Well-known for his warmth and sense of humor, Tom delighted in telling funny stories. He had friends of all ages, and his advice was often sought. His hobbies included travel, exercise, new technology and motorcycling trips with friends. An expert craftsman, he built a sailboat, and could fix almost anything that was broken. He adored his family. He will be missed.

He served as an Elder at the Burlingame First Presbyterian Church, and was a member of the Burlingame Country Club and the Bohemian Club of San Francisco, as well as a voting member of the Cherokee Nation.

Dr. Parker is survived by his children: Melissa Draper of Atherton, California, Tom Parker of Seattle and Diana Parker of San Francisco; and his four grandchildren: Jesse Draper, Adam Draper, Billy Draper and Eleanor Draper. He is also survived by his nephews, Tom Hawk, MD of Dallas, Blake Hawk of Houston, and niece Hollie Hawk of Houston. He was pre-deceased by his wife of 55 years, Martha Lee, his sister, Peggy Parker Hawk of Houston, and his parents.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Mills-Peninsula Hospital Foundation, 1501 Trousdale Avenue, Burlingame, CA 94010 (www.mills-peninsula.org) or other charitable community organization.

A memorial is being planned. For information, please send an email address to parkerupdate@gmail.com.

Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Apr. 21, 2013
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