Dr. Thurman Shuller, well-known physician, historian, remembered
November 26, 2012

Dr. Thurman Shuller, 98, died Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, in McAlester.

Visitation for family and friends will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Bishop Funeral Home.

Memorial services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at First (Grand Avenue) United Methodist Church. Prior to services, there will be a private burial at Oak Hill Cemetery. Military honors will be provided by Fort Sill Army Honor Guard. Arrangements are under the direction of Bishop Funeral Service of McAlester.

Born May 6, 1914, on a farm near Ozark, Ark., he was the youngest of six sons of Edgar Wallace and Sarah Elizabeth McWhorter Shuller. He attended New Hope, a rural elementary school and Ozark High School. His pre-medical education was obtained at Arkansas Tech at Russellville, Ark. and Hendrix College at Conway. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Medicine at Little Rock, Class of 1939.

Upon graduation, he joined the United States Army Medical Reserve Corps before beginning a two-year internship at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. Immediately upon completion that internship in 1941, he was called to active duty in the Army Air Corps for a period of one year, but five months later the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor extended his active duty to five years. He was sent to the School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Field in preparation for assignment as a doctor with an air corps combat unit. Fortunately, his first unit assignment was as squadron surgeon in the 306th Bomb Groups, one of the very first B-17 Heavy Bombardment Groups being organized at Wendover Field, Utah. He advanced rapidly with the explosive expansion of the Army Air Corps in 1942. After completion of the unit organization and training of the 306th Bomb Group, during which time he had been advanced to Group Flight Surgeon, the combat unit was ordered to England as one of the very first groups to become an integral part of the mighty 8th Air Force. As the 8th Air Force rapidly expanded with arrival of additional groups, he was advanced to Wing Surgeon, then to Bomb Division Surgeon, and finally to 1st Air Division Surgeon. Military awards and citations include the Legion of Merit, the Air Medal and the French Croix de Guerre. In the space of only five years of active duty, he had been advanced in rank from first lieutenant to full colonel at age 32.

Upon release from active duty he married Joanna Carter, the daughter of Elmer and Archie Carter of Altus, Ark. The couple immediately moved to New Orleans where he entered a two-year residency program in pediatrics at Charity Hospital on the Tulane service, after which they relocated to McAlester in 1948, where he became associated with the McAlester Clinic which included his brother Dr. E. H. Shuller, in the practice of pediatrics for 41 years. At that time he was the first board-trained pediatrician to settle in Oklahoma outside the larger cities of Oklahoma City and Tulsa. He retired from medical practice in 1989 at the age of 75.

He was a member of Pittsburg County Medical Society, serving a term as president of the county society; the Oklahoma Medical Association, with two terms on the council, and the American Medical Association. He served as chief of staff at both St. Mary’s and McAlester General Hospital in McAlester and on the various committees. He was chief of staff of the McAlester Clinic for several years and was a member of the Board of McAlester General Hospital for 24 years, the entire life of that hospital. He was a former member of the Board of Oklahoma Blue Cross-Blue Shield.

He was an active member of Grand Avenue United Methodist Church, now First United Methodist, where he served on various boards and committees and served several times as delegate to the Oklahoma Annual Conference. He was an active supporter of the Boy Scouts, serving on the cub and troop levels and for two years as president of the Choctaw Area Council before it was consolidated with the Tulsa Indian Nations council. He is the recipient of the Silver Beaver Award. He was a 60 year member of the McAlester Rotary Club, serving a term as its president, and on various committees.

In his retirement from medical practice, he had been active with the Pittsburg County Genealogical and Historical Society, being one of its founding members. Besides serving as its president several times, he had served, along with other volunteers, helping others with their genealogical research. His particular interest has been in researching and writing local McAlester history before and after statehood. One of his projects was researching and publishing a book on deaths due to coal mine accidents in southeastern Oklahoma, from which the 1,750 names on the coal mine monument in Chadick Park were taken. One of his historical articles was recently accepted for publication in the state historical journal, Chronicles of Oklahoma. He also served as volunteer reading instructor with the local literacy program.

Survivors include his four children, Mary Beth Carney and husband, Jim, McKinney, Texas, Henry Shuller, Lewisville, Texas, Margaret Davis, Plano, Texas, and Frank Shuller and wife, Jane, Kialua, Hawaii.

Also, granddaughter, Jennifer Adams and husband, Dan, Virginia Beach, Va.; grandson, Jeffrey Carney and wife, Elke, Hudson, Wis.; four great-grandchildren and numerous nephews and nieces.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Joanna; his parents E.W. and Sarah Shuller, and brothers, Frank Shuller, Albert Shuller, Edgar Shuller, Dr. E.H. Shuller and Herbert Shuller.

Memorials may be made to the building fund of First United Methodist Church of McAlester, the Pittsburg County Genealogical and Historical Society at 113 East Carl Albert Pkwy, or Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, 825 NE 13th St. Oklahoma City, OK. 73104.

McAlaster News Capital
McAlaster News Capital