Bobby Miller DeWeese, M.D.
Bobby Miller DeWeese, M.D., age 86, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, November 25, 2020. He was a person of great ability as evidenced in his two highly successful careers, but he never changed the basic values he learned as a youngster growing up in Ballard County, Kentucky. He was born on November 8, 1934 in La Center, Kentucky. His parents divorced when he was young and he was fortunate to be raised by a loving strong Christian mother and grandparents, Grace and John R. Miller. He always said that he had the best of all worlds growing up in a small town and getting his first job at age ten when he began helping his later to be step-father, Dr. William Coffee, a prominent veterinarian in Western Kentucky. Bob was given the responsibilities of carrying Doc's black bag and helping to hold the animals when examinations were difficult. He obeyed the orders explicitly and this early training served to help build the confidence and the discipline he needed during medical school and surgery residency years. Serving as "assistant" to Dr. Coffee also introduced him to the political world. Dr. Coffee was responsible for the medical needs of the animals at the Alben Barkley farm near Paducah and the two men often engaged in political talk. Alben Barkely later became a US Senator and then served as Vice-President of the United States under President Harry S. Truman. Years later, Bob ran for political office, but chose an opposite party from his step-father and Barkley. When Bob graduated from Ballard County High School, he served as President of his high school class. He always remembered his honor to introduce the Baccalaureate Ceremony speaker Alben Barkley, a man he admired.
Bob entered the University of Kentucky as a pre-med student in 1953 and a year later he met a special girl, Angela Haick of Louisville, who became his college sweetheart for four years. The two married in 1958 at St. Paul United Methodist Church. She began a teaching career and he completed his studies at the University of Louisville Medical School. His lifelong dream was to study surgery and he was accepted into the UL Surgery Residency Program in 1961. It was very hard work and long hours for residents, but the rigid training paid off. Bob always retained great respect for his Professors and his Surgery Chief, Dr. Rudolph Noer. After passing his American College of Surgery Boards, he began his surgery practice and had a highly successful thirty year career. He practiced at Methodist Hospital, Audubon Hospital, Suburban Hospital and Saints Mary and Elizabeth Hospitals. He served as Chief of Staff and also Surgery Chairman at several hospitals. He also served as President of the Louisville Surgical Society and was a member of the Southern Surgical Society. His political side began to emerge and he successfully ran for several offices in the medical community. He was elected president of both the Jefferson County Medical Society and Kentucky Medical Association and he also served as a Delegate to the KMA and AMA during these years. He had un-limited support and help from his family during these years.
In 1992, he took a gigantic step and decided to run for the Kentucky House of Representatives as a Republican candidate. He won his first election and served honorably for 24 years as State Representative of the 48th District. During his first term, he suffered a serious eye problem and decided to retire from medicine, which allowed him to focus on holding his seat for the Republican Party for 12 terms. Bob bragged to everyone in Frankfort that the best people in Kentucky lived in the 48th District. Many of his friends and medical colleagues felt that Bob would get discouraged and disillusioned by the world of politics but that did not happen.
Even though he entered state government to primarily advocate for healthcare positions, he amazingly was able to work with fellow House leaders of both parties to pass important legislation and to complete various infrastructure projects, such as road widenings, the addition of new stop lights and road signs, and the Westport Road-Watterson Expressway interchange. He spent hours meeting constituents and small city councils and Mayors. He never asked a constituent the name of his or her political party and he answered every request regardless of party affiliation. He had great support from friends, medical colleagues, neighbors, and of course his family and wife who agreed to serve as his Campaign treasurer for three months until he named a permanent replacement. Twenty four years later when Bob retired from State Government- his wife resigned the job!
Bob was most proud of his help to Kentucky colleges and institutions of higher learning. He supported the "Bucks for Brains" program, which benefited all Kentucky colleges. Bob was loyal to both UL and to UK, but in the area of college sports - he remained an avid Big Blue fan for his entire life. He and Angie made great memories taking grandkids to football and basketball games and they willingly shared tickets with family and friends over the years. Bob received many honors in his long years of service, but he always said that his greatest honor was the trust given to him by the people who lived and voted in the 48th District. In the year 2000, Bob was honored by the American Medical Association when he was awarded the Dr. Nathan Davis award presented to an outstanding legislator. His wife, his mother, and his children traveled to Washington, D.C. to see him accept the award. It was a proud moment for him and his family.
Bob loved his state and his country and always flew both flags at his home. Bob loved life and he loved the outdoors. His greatest avocation was planting shrubs and flowers and working in his garden. He loved hunting and fishing as a youngster, but in his adult years he enjoyed golf and mostly played with his three sons and his grandsons at his beloved Hurstbourne Country Club. While he was not a world traveler, he did enjoy three short trips abroad. But he was happiest when he was in his beloved Kentucky and in his own home and garden, surrounded by his loving children and grandchildren. He loved holidays - his children, their spouses and grandchildren always honored him by attending family events. Christmas Eve and Christmas were his special time to decorate a huge tree and use his artistic abilities to arrange Williamsburg designs.
He was a charter member of Hurstbourne Country Club and he was a member of Rotary Club of Louisville, life member of the UK Alumni Association and a UK Fellow. He served on the University of Louisville Board of Overseers and the UL Cancer Board and many charitable organizations over the years. He was a big supporter of The Healing Place and many music and arts programs in Louisville. He was a loyal church member and he and his wife Angie have been active members at Christ Church United Methodist for the past sixteen years.
Bob was preceded in death by his grandparents, Grace Buchanan Miller and John Richard Miller, his mother, Mildred Miller Coffee, his step-father, Dr. William Marshall Coffee and his father, Elbert DeWeese. Bob was also pre-deceased by his only son in law, Kevin Edward McLaughlin, who passed away in December 2019. He had great relationships with his brothers and sisters-in -law who preceded him in death: Albert J. Haick, Alex John Haick, Edward M. Haick, M.D., Hervey McClellan, D.M.D., Harold F. Barrens, Hazel Haick and Marie McClellan.
He is survived by his loving wife of 62 years, Angela (Haick), his children: John Miller DeWeese (Kim), Robert Craig DeWeese, M.D. (Susan), Amy DeWeese McLaughlin and Steven Edward DeWeese (Shannon) and his loving and devoted grandchildren: John Miller DeWeese, Jr., Madison Lang DeWeese, Katherine Grace DeWeese, Shawn Edward DeWeese, Robert Craig DeWeese, Jr., Kyle Edward McLaughlin, Alexandra Ray DeWeese, Charles Ian McLaughlin and Kathleen Ava DeWeese. He is also survived by sisters-in-law: Elizabeth Barrens, Joann Haick and Hester Haick and many loving nieces and nephews.
The family would like to thank Dr. John Varga and the staff of One MD for their loyal and professional service and Dr. Susan Berberich of Kentucky Eye Care PSC for her years of professional care. The family would also like to express a great debt of gratitude to the loving and caring staff at Westport Place and give a special thank you to Susan Weatherby of Senior Helpers who gave Bob her love and devotion and excellent care for the past three years.
Because of the Covid limitations, the funeral arrangements will be private and a Celebration of Life will be planned at a later time to honor Bob's amazing life.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests gifts or donations to the charity of choice
Pearson's has been entrusted with arrangements.
Published by Courier-Journal from Dec. 2 to Dec. 6, 2020.