Marianna loses its first general surgeon. Dr. William "Poppy" Brunner passed away quietly on Sept. 14, 2011, with his family in attendance at the age of 80.
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He was preceded in death by his parents, four brothers, and his beloved daughter, Ginger.
Born the son of a butcher on a cold snowy morning on Dec. 6, 1930, Dr. Brunner was born on a ironing board in his family home in Memphis, Tenn.
Poppy was raised a Roman Catholic and had all intentions of becoming a priest until he met the love of his life and was married for 57 years to Diane Daws. He attended Christian Brothers High School, Christians Brothers College, Southwest in Memphis and ultimately obtained his M.D. degree from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. He graduated top of his class in 1954.
Poppy joined the U.S. Navy in 1956 and began his residency in general surgery at the Portsmouth Norfolk Naval Hospital System in Virginia. After completing residency, he was transferred to the Naval Air System/Cecil Field Complex in Jacksonville, Fla. He attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander and was then transferred to become Chief of Surgery at the Naval Hospital in Key West, Fla., during the U.S. Cuban Conflict.
He met the late Dr. Jabe Breland from Marianna, Fla., at a meeting in Miami who convinced him to move to Marianna in 1965. He was the first board certified general surgeon in the area and practiced as such for 18 years as the sole surgeon for a six-county area. His expertise included obstetrics, gynecology, orthopedics and even neurosurgery. During his more than 45 years as a general surgeon, Poppy performed an estimated 40,000-plus procedures at the hospital and countless other procedures in his office. He was proudly joined by his son in 1989 who practiced with him for 22 years until he fell ill.
Poppy's many accomplishments included spearheading and becoming chairman of the first nursing home in Marianna, which is city owned and still rated as one of the number one facilities in the state. He introduced upper GI endoscopy and colonoscopy, surgical stapling techniques, intensive care units and countless other orthopedic and neurological procedures.
He served on numerous community organizations, chairman of the medical staff, and chief of surgery when the hospital was a fledgling entity in the area. Dr. Brunner served on the University of Tennessee board of governors for more than 35 years representing the State of Florida. He served an almost unprecedented eight years on the Florida Board of Medicine, serving as chairman for half of those years. He served as president of the Marianna Rotary Club and was a Paul Harris Fellow. He also served numerous years on the Board of Directors at the First Bank of Marianna, then SouthTrust.
Dr. Brunner saw no color in life or in the practice of medicine and was the first doctor in town to abolish different waiting rooms. He dearly cared for all of his patients and always felt that human suffering was the worst of all possible feelings.
Poppy dearly loved his family and always thought family should be first. He loved to talk about football, especially Tennessee football. He loved to be outside in the yard, at the beach and at the farm. His favorite things were "tinkering around" and gardening.
He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Diane; his son, Richard Brunner, M.D., and fiancée, Lisa Sowell; his son, John Brunner and wife, Anna Brunner, all of Marianna. He is also survived by seven grandchildren.
He will be dearly missed by many as a true friend, colleague, peer, and as a doctor working to do whatever it took to take care of the patient.
Poppy will be immensely missed by his family for his patience, honor, faith, love, laugh, smile and persistence and determination. He was the best friend, dad, grandfather and husband a family could ask for in a lifetime.
A time of remembrance for Dr. Brunner will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, 2011, in the Marianna Chapel Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to Covenant Hospice, 4215 Kelson Ave., Suite E, Marianna, FL 32446.
Expressions of sympathy may be made online at www.mariannachapelfh.com.
3960 Lafayette St.
Marianna, Fla. 32446