THOMAS J. ZIRKLE, MD, FACS Born in Loma Linda in 1936, Tom Zirkle, MD, FACS, joined the medical pursuits of his father in a distinguished professional career that f ocused on cleft palate, hand, and cosmetic surgery, burn and trauma care and emergency medicine as well as myriad administrative duties. He served as senior vice president of Loma Linda's Medical Center, assistant dean of the School of Medicine, special assistant to the president at the University, and president of the School of Medicine's Alumni Association. In a career that spanned the globe, Dr. Zirkle taught, treated, and consulted in six continents, and covered hospital appointments at the Medical Cen ter, Pettis Veterans Hospital, Riverside General Hospital, City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte, California. He often traveled to places where he would perform medical missionary services. His 2008 calendar shows proposed continuing education appointments in Greece and at Camp MiVoden in Idaho, the latter a long-time annual commitment. Overseeing Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital in Hangzhou, China, from its inception, he made more than 70 trips to ensure the building and operation met western standards. A comple x spectrum of interests brought balance into Dr. Zirkle's life. His marriage to Carol Rudy, nursing student from Spokane, on December 26, 1961, came a few months before the two were awarded their respective medical and nursing degrees. The couple's children recall rich conversations initiated by their father at the dinner table. They also remember airplane trips often with their father piloting flights to Spokane, Monument Valley, San Diego, and the Grand Canyon. During his plastic surgery residency at John s Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, the family was evacuated to avoid the 1969 neighborhood riots. Secure in his father's protection, Dr. Zirkle's son recalls watching with absorbed interest from a high rise apartment the violent outbreaks. Spearheading an emergency medical service program for Loma Linda fire fighters, Dr. Zirkle developed and taught the courses and ultimately became deputy chief of the department, active in all aspects of fire fighting. According to his colleagues, "His knowledge of th e fire service was impeccable even though he was a physician. A great asset to the community, his medical skills gave added dimensions to his service." An interest in media developed when young Zirkle participated in radio productions with other academy students at the Hill Church's radio station. In the 70s with Dr. Roland Zimmerman he determined to transmit University Church events to patients' rooms in the Medical Center. He raised funds, purchased cameras, and learned television production skills for t he project. The effort has grown to become a 24-7 operation at Loma Linda Broadcasting Network, where he was serving as chair of the board, moderator on several programs, and presenter on a devotional "One-to-One" weekly television show. His adventurous spirit took Dr. Zirkle and Norman Meyer to Alaska in 1974 to purchase army surplus helicopters for the Medical Center, which has had helicopter ambulance service ever since. Interspersed with flying, gardening, reading, and musical talents have been Dr. Zir kle's church affiliations: serving as board chair and head elder at University Church, as board chair of Loma Linda Academy during its successful fund drive to build a grade school accommodating over 1,000 students, and as associate director of the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference Department of Health Ministries from the mid 90s till his death, which took him to the Philippines, Australia, Thailand, Africa, and India. Active in spite of a week-old bypass surgical procedure, Dr. Zirkle helped grandd aughter Maddi on his final day with her homework in science and mathematics. His attention to family ties will be cherished by those mourning his January 11 death: wife Carol; son Thomas (and wife Jennifer) of Tempe, Arizona, daughter Karen of Redlands and son Jonathan of Loma Linda; grandchildren Forest, Thomas, Madison, and Theodore; brother George of Redding, CA; and brother-in-law Philip L. "Larry" Rudy (and wife Carol) of Spokane, Washington. Graveside services are scheduled at Loma Linda's Montecito Cemetery on Thursday, January 17, at 2 P.M. A memorial service will begin at 5:30 P.M. on February 2 at the Loma Linda University Church of Seventh-day Adventists. Donations in memory of Dr. Zirkle may be made to Loma Linda Broadcasting Network or The Quiet Hour.
Published in San Bernardino County Sun on Jan. 17, 2008.