Dr. Thomas Nelson Pirkle, 86, of LaGrange passed away Friday, June 20, 2014, at his home.
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Dr. Pirkle was born August 7, 1927, in Flowery Branch, Ga., and was the only child of Perry W. and Vesta C. Pirkle. As it was during the Depression, the small family moved several times, always following work. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1945. After the war, he enrolled at Oglethorpe College, and in his senior year he transferred to and graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in chemistry. While working as a chemist in Atlanta and in LaGrange, Thomas met his future wife, Elizabeth Ann Whelchel, in Atlanta. He enrolled at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, and they were engaged after his first semester of study. Thomas and Elizabeth married in New York City in December 1952, on a popular CBS television show, "Bride and Groom." Their daughter Susan and son Tom had arrived by the time Thomas graduated in 1956 in the top 3 percent of his class.
The young family moved to Athens, Ga., to complete his internship program, then on to Blue Ridge, Ga., where Thomas was a general practitioner. Daughter Nancy was born in 1959, and the growing family moved to Jacksonville, Fla. Thomas worked in insurance medicine during which time their daughter Alice was born. He worked for Prudential Insurance Company. and later served as medical director of Gulf Life Insurance Corporation. He soon decided, however, that he preferred to practice medicine, and took a three-year residency in radiology in Shreveport, La. After practicing in Macon and Cordele, Ga., Thomas and Elizabeth were recruited to Clark-Holder Clinic in 1984, by their dear friend, Dr. Raymond Leverett of LaGrange. Thomas retired from Clark-Holder Clinic in September of 1994.
After his retirement, he enjoyed golf and UGA football. Thomas and Elizabeth were enthusiastic travelers and were fortunate to have traveled extensively, lacking only the span between Jerusalem and Hong Kong to complete their around-the-world goal. Thomas felt strongly that any time and expense spent on travel or education was never wasted. He had a wonderful sense of humor, was charming and gracious, always courteous, and a true Southern gentleman. He was a member of First Baptist Church on the Square, LaGrange, Ga., and taught the Kiser Men's Sunday School Class for many years. A longstanding member of Union Masonic Lodge No. 28 in LaGrange, Dr. Pirkle previously served as Worshipful Master of Cordelia Lodge No. 296, and as chaplain for a number of years.
Dr. Pirkle was dearly loved and will be deeply missed by his family and friends. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Elizabeth W. Pirkle of LaGrange; daughters, Susan E. Woellhart (Larry) of Huntsville, Ala., Nancy P. Lehman (Robert) of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Alice P. Sloan (Brian) of Atlanta, Ga.; son, Thomas J. Pirkle (Martha) of LaGrange; grandsons, Maxwell T. Lehman and Alexander N. Lehman of Scottsdale, Ariz.; granddaughters, Amy W. Self (Dusty), Joy S. Woellhart, Kari W. Brown (Ryan); and great-grandsons, Cameron Self and Oliver Brown.
Funeral services will be held 1 p.m., Monday, June 23, 2014, at First Baptist Church on the Square with Dr. Paul Baxter and the Rev. Paul Blair officiating. There will be a brief gathering of family and friends in the Welcome Center of First Baptist Church on the Square following the service. A private interment will be held in Shadowlawn Cemetery.
The family wishes to thank the staffs of West Georgia Home Health and West Georgia Home Hospice for their kindness and compassion.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Oglethorpe University, the Georgia Masonic Children's Home, or West Georgia Home Hospice, in honor of Dr. Thomas Nelson Pirkle.
Those wishing to share a condolence or remembrance with the family may do so by visiting www.shlagrange.com.
Arrangements are by Striffler-Hamby Mortuary, 1010 Mooty Bridge Road, LaGrange, GA 30240, 706-884-8636.
Published in gainesvilletimes.com on June 21, 2014