Dr. Phillip George

Published 6:17 pm Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Dr. Phillip George, 86, noted pediatric pulmonologist of Memphis, died after a short illness on July 31, 2018. Dr. George had long been retired from his medical practice and education career at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center; however, he never retired as a champion for numerous Memphis institutions, including the young patients at Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center.

He spent more than 40 years in the department of pediatrics at UTHSC during which time he served as Le Bonheur’s chief of medicine, medical director of the Memphis Cystic Fibrosis Clinic and medical director of Le Bonheur’s Pulmonary Function Laboratory. His efforts during his long and distinguished career at UTCHS culminated in establishing the Department of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine at Le Bonheur, which he founded in 1978. Dr. George was also President of the Board of Directors of Les Passes Rehabilitation Center in 1987.

Born in Vicksburg, Dec. 15, 1931, Dr. George was the youngest of five children of the late Abraham and Ida George. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Mississippi at Oxford and earned his medical degree at Cornell University Medical College in New York in 1956. Following a surgical internship at The New York Hospital, Dr. George served two years in the U.S. Naval Reserve (1957-59) with duty in Okinawa, Japan, and the U.S. Naval Hospital at Camp Pendleton, Calif., before returning to Memphis where he was a resident in pediatrics at Frank T. Tobey Children’s Hospital in the University of Tennessee, Memphis program between 1959 – 1961. He completed his residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital and in 1962 was certified by the American Board of Pediatrics in 1963. He became a National Cancer Institute postdoctoral research fellow at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where he remained until 1965. During that time he authored the first publication from that institution on “total therapy” of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

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Between 1965 and 1968, he was assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at UT Memphis and was promoted to associate professor. In 1972, he was promoted to professor of Pediatrics and was appointed emeritus professor of pediatrics at UT Memphis College of Medicine in 1990.

Dr. George’s service to UT Memphis was considerable. His University appointments included president of the Faculty Senate of the College of Medicine in 1971. It was his contributions in the area of teaching, however, where he received the most recognition. Among the numerous awards bestowed upon him was the Golden Apple Award in 1966 and 1976 from the Student American Medical Association. He also received the Outstanding Teacher Award from the UT Alumni Association in 1968 and 1977. In recognition of his contributions to medical student education, Dr. George was elected as a member to the Alpha Omega Alpha Society by the students at UT Memphis in 1970. He also received Student/Faculty Recognition Awards from 1972-78, 1981 and 1984, and won the Annual Pediatric Housestaff Clinical Teaching Award in 1982 and 1989. The Student Executive Council named him for Distinguished Teaching Award in 1983 and he was the clinical faculty member selected for excellence by the Class of 1989. He was chosen the convocation speaker for the Class of 1989 convocation exercises.

It is noteworthy that Dr. George authored 23 manuscripts throughout his esteemed career and made major contributions to the University by serving on numerous committees including those for pediatric training, student awards and student affairs, continuing education and human values and ethics. He was also a member of the Search Committee for the Dean of the College of Allied Health Sciences. 

Among his many accomplishments, Dr. George was active with The Baddour Center where he served on the Board of Trustees, on the Center’s Executive Committee and headed up the Center’s Education & Research Committee for several years during which he was charged with the task of establishing The Baddour Center as an Education and Research facility. He also served as president of the Institutional Review Board for Baddour and helped write the first draft of the IRB guidebook for the Center. The Baddour Center Division of Education and Research named its semi-annual spring and fall symposia in Dr. George’s honor to recognize his exceptional leadership in establishing the Baddour Center as an education and research facility.

Additionally, Dr. George was an active docent at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. He was founding member of the museum’s Decorative Arts Trust (he served on the board for 15 years, was board president in 1992-93). He was also a founding member and served on the Board of Aloysius Home, Inc. (1993-1997), and in 2005 helped spearhead the physicians’ capital campaign to build the new Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital that opened in 2010.

Among his community service, Dr. George served on the Medical Advisory Council for the Memphis Chapter of the Hemophilia Foundation; was special consultant to the Association of Black Students for Medical Sciences, Community Health Service Project; Medical Advisory and Policy Committee for Les Passes Rehabilitation Center and board member for 10 years; Children’s Lung Committee and Southwest Regional Board of the American Lung Association of Tennessee; and the Board of Directors for Aloysius Home.

Other life-long interests and memberships included The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, the Memphis Zoological Society, the Memphis Human Society and the Memphis Orchestral Society where he was a member of the Golden Circle and a charter member of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra’s Stradivarius Society.

A long-time resident of the Country Club Tower in Memphis, Dr. George still found time among his university obligations and community commitments to serve on the board and as president of the condominium’s homeowners association.

He is survived by a niece, GeorgeAnne Hosemann of Birmingham, Alabama, and two nephews, George Phillip Gandre of Granite Bay, California, and Guy Gandre of Mountain City, Texas. Internment will be in Vicksburg.     

Burial will be Saturday, Aug. 11, at the Cedar Hill Cemetery at 1 p.m. The family requests that memorials be sent to Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center Foundation, The Baddour Center, UTHSC Foundation, or a charity of the donor’s choice.