Vernon Francis LIGHTFOOT M.D.

8 entries | 1 photo
  • "A really genuine kind family that I've had the pleasure to..."
    - Rick Anderson
  • "In Loving memory of a wonderful and caring Physician who..."
    - Dr. and Mrs. Donald Q (Nanci) Streutker
  • "honored that my husband and I were able to meet Vern a few..."
    - Sharon Dietz
  • "Our condolences to the lightfoot family."
    - Jim, Mia, Brittany and Mandy Barlett
  • "Dr. Dan, Dr. David, & family, I am so sorry for the loss..."
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Died peacefully of heart failure 31 October 2013 in the presence of his family at his home of 56 years, age 93. Only son of Frank and Pearl May Waters Lightfoot, born 05 May 1920 in Devol, Cotton County, OK. Raised in Coffeyville, KS, he possessed a ferocious but optimistic will to succeed all his life. While participating in theater ("that's where the good looking girls were") at junior high, he was inspired to become a physician after acting one in a play. Knowing his oil worker father, who only had a third grade education, could not support his ambition, Vern built himself up physically to qualify for an athletic scholarship. He drank so much milk, over two gallons a day, his Dad bought him a cow named Betsy, which he remembered fondly to his last days. After playing one year of football at junior college, he got his scholarship and played for the University of Missouri on their Hall of Fame 1942 Sugar Bowl team. At Mizzou, he met and wooed his late wife, Megan Fay "Peggy" Gronoway. WWII caused radical change. He enlisted in the Navy medical service ("they didn't require you to drill like the Army"), and entered Missouri's 2-year medical school on an accelerated schedule. He finished medical school at Northwestern University in Chicago where he played for the Wildcats under the late Glenn "Pappy" Waldorf. Upon graduation in 1945, he married Peggy ("her Dad wouldn't let us marry until I had the M.D.") and the same day shipped out for his internship at Mare Island Naval Base. He did his service requirement at bases in the Bay Area and Stockton. He and Peggy liked the area so well they decided to settle in the West. A ruptured appendix delayed his entrance into residency training, so he practiced with his father-in-law, the late T.P. Gronoway, M.D. for a year in Macon, MO. After completion of his residency in ophthalmology at U.C. San Francisco, despite urging to come to Santa Rosa by the late Dr. Ward Wick, who had taken his place at the residency when the appendix ruptured, he practiced for four years in Logan, Utah ("Santa Rosa was too small to support another ophthalmologist"). In 1956 he changed his mind and moved his growing family to Santa Rosa to join Dr. Wick. He was one of a cohort of physicians who moved to postwar Santa Rosa and by his expertise and support helped make Memorial Hospital the well-respected regional referral center it became. He very much wanted his children and grandchildren to succeed, and was a devoted supporter of their activities, including presidency of the Santa Rosa Neptune Swim Club, presidency of the Santa Rosa High School Boosters where he was secret buyer of the infamous football blocking sled and longtime supplier of Gatorade. He was also a former Deacon of the 1st Presbyterian Church, and past president of the Cordes Eye Society of the UC Department of Ophthalmology. After his two oldest sons joined his practice, he retired in 1988 and was able to devote more time on his avocations that included astronomy; woodworking, particularly turning toys for his grandchildren out of walnut that his father and he had harvested; gardening; and bird watching, which he did up to his last days. He also enjoyed traveling. Special places were Spring Lake Park and the Sea Ranch, where he had a small retreat. He was an inventor, recently acquiring two patents, and an author, publishing the book "Buddy, What Happened?", which demonstrated his unique humor and love of puns and word play. Sadly, "Humor Being", his last book, will remain unfinished. The Lightfoot family extends special thanks and gratitude to Mary Noonan, Alex Ikandu and Jane Wanjiku for their devoted care of Vernon. He is survived by his six children: Dan Lightfoot, M.D. (Meta) of Santa Rosa; David Lightfoot, M.D. (Marsha) of Santa Rosa; Kent Lightfoot, PhD. (Roberta) of El Cerrito; Jill Hale (Dave) of Sebastopol; Mark Lightfoot, J.D. (Leslie) of Lancaster, PA; Mary Lightfoot of Belvidere, IL; 13 grandchildren: Megan, Meta Jean, Katie, & Laura Lightfoot of Santa Rosa; Clark and Jennifer Hale of Sebastopol; John Staroba (Ashlee) of Santa Rosa; Paul Staroba of New York City, NY; Brent, Matt, and Jenay Lightfoot of Lancaster, PA; Keith and Kirsten Larson of Belvidere, IL; and one great grandchild, Marian Grace Staroba of Santa Rosa. Private Family Ceremony Donations to .
Published Online in the Press Democrat from Nov. 9 to Nov. 14, 2013
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