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Dr. Peter William Werner

Obituary Condolences

Dr. Peter William Werner Dr. Peter William Werner, beloved father, brother, uncle, physician, friend, hero, and enthusiast for life, passed peacefully into eternal life on Wednesday, the 15th of June 2011. He was surrounded by his adoring children as he entered into God's presence and returned to the side of his wife Linda. While we deeply grieve the loss of our parents' earthly inhabitance, we greatly rejoice that they are together again. Pete was born on the 4th of April 1937, in Winona, Minnesota, the third child and only son of Alfred and Teresa Werner. When he was five, the family moved to Chicago, Illinois, and it was there that he spent his childhood and young adulthood. Pete's parents were wonderfully unique and exceptional individuals, and they instilled in him a sense of adventure, a thirst for learning, a love of nature, an intense curiosity, an unabashed silliness, and a terrific zest for life. He was dear friends with both of them until their last days, and he modeled for all of us exactly how a child should love and honor his parents. Pete attended Vanderpoel Elementary School and graduated from Morgan Park High School in January of 1955. While at Morgan Park (affectionately called "Empehi" by its current and former students), Pete was named Outstanding Senior, was President of the National Honor Society, President of the Concert Band, and quarterback of the football team. Throughout our entire lives, he repeatedly "threatened" to show us his Morgan Park football highlight films, to which we would all offer a collective groan! One of the great recent joys of his life was getting back in touch with many of his friends and football buddies from his Empehi days. He was so grateful for that. He attended The University of Chicago and its Medical School on a full scholarship, receiving his Bachelor of Science in 1959 and his Doctor of Medicine in 1963. He completed his residency in Neurology at The University of Iowa from 1964-1967. He served in the United States Navy at Great Lakes Naval Station from 1967 to 1969. He never saw combat, but joked throughout his life that he had heroically "stormed the beaches of Lake Michigan." In the summer of 1960, while working at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, he met Linda Clare Reed, the most beautiful girl on the Southside of Chicago (though he would consistently say throughout his life that it was her intelligence - her mind - that really swept him off of his feet). This meeting marked the beginning of a 44-year relationship, one characterized by deep respect, abiding friendship, loving compassion, shared interests, endless conversation, and ridiculous amounts of laughter and silliness. Pete and Linda were married on the 8th of June 1963, and within the next six years, had daughters Julie, Brooke, and Kristin. In 1969, the family moved to Austin, and within the next eight years, sons Alan and Mark and daughter Erin were added to the family. After a year at Austin Diagnostic Clinic, Pete, along with his friend and colleague J. Douglas Hudson, M.D., founded the Austin Neurological Clinic in 1970. For the next 32 years, he earned the love and respect of countless thousands of patients and colleagues in the Austin area, all of whom came to appreciate his skill, his kindness, his humor, and his passionate devotion to the practice of outstanding medicine. He was very involved in the Austin community, and derived great satisfaction from these activities. He served on the Austin Community College Board of Trustees from 1980 to 1982, and on the Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees from 1980 to 1986. In 1978, he co-founded the Northwest Austin Kickball League, which is now one of the largest, most successful kickball leagues in the state. His role in creating this league and seeing it continue to thrive throughout the years brought him lasting and significant joy. He was a man of innumerable interests. He was a superb athlete, and loved playing sports of all kinds, particularly football, tennis, and racquetball. He was a rabid sports fan, faithfully cheering on his Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bulls, and Dallas Cowboys. He was a master gardener, and over the years created many exquisite gardens, all of which overflowed with beauty, color, and creativity. He was an avid bird-watcher, and could identify virtually any bird by either its color or its song. He loved history and politics, and continually sought to educate himself on such matters. He appreciated great music and great art, and passed this appreciation on to all of us. He was a great conversationalist, and there wasn't a topic in the world that you couldn't discuss with him. He was endlessly fascinating and fascinated. But it was his role as husband, father, and grandfather in which he shined the brightest and found the greatest delight. His family was everything to him, and his love for us was, quite simply, huge. There were six of us, but he forged a unique bond with each of us, and took a passionate interest in all that we did. He was our teacher, our coach, our playmate, our example, our provider, our protector. He was selfless, he was tireless, he was hilarious, he was a BLAST. He played ball with us, helped us with homework, cheered us on, took us on adventures. He loved our mother so well, and treated her with such respect, adoration, and appreciation. When she became ill in the 90's, he remained so devoted to her, and lived out so perfectly the vow of "in sickness and in health." In his final moments, the words that kept coming to us were, "You were the greatest Dad a child could ever have asked for." He was a dedicated Pompa to all of his grandchildren, and they ADORED him. In his later years, his almost every thought was about them. He couldn't wait to hear news about them, and he spent countless hours visiting with them, writing them letters, helping them with school assignments, and of course, looking for the perfect presents for them. What unspeakable joy they brought him! In December of 2002, after 65 years of near-perfect health, he suffered a massive stroke that left him quadriparetic. Initially, he could not speak, swallow, or move, and he was not given much of a chance to live. Over the course of the next eight and a half years, he would defy every odd at every turn. He regained his speech and swallowing, as well as movement in his right arm and hand, which opened up a whole world for him. His relentlessly positive attitude and his refusal to live a sedentary life made his last several years full and abundant! He got up in his wheelchair every day, went on numerous outings every week, maintained many of his hobbies and interests, and continued to fully engage with family and friends. He did it all with amazing strength and fortitude. The family wishes to express its deep thanks to the countless physicians, nurses, and various medical professionals who helped care for him for these last eight and a half years. We offer special thanks to his very own angels on earth - his at-home caretakers Damita King and Kathy Carmon. No other single individual or thing added more to Pete's quality of life than Damita and Kathy. They will be family forever, and we will be eternally grateful for the beautiful and selfless way that they cared for him. Finally, we thank the extraordinary Dr. Bruce Bowers of Medical City Hospital in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Bowers performed life-saving surgery on Pete in April of 2010, and in doing so, added 14 precious months to his life. We are so thankful that he believed in Pete, and that he practiced such aggressive, courageous, life-extending medicine. Pete was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 41 years, Linda Clare Reed Werner, his sister, Stephanie Werner, his mother, Teresa Werner, a
Published in Austin American-Statesman from June 19 to June 23, 2011
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