Shirley Terri Bunch
Shirley Terri Bunch, M.B. B.Chir., M.A., a clinical assistant professor and the director of clinical operations in the division of pediatric neurology, passed in September after a courageous three-year fight against cancer. She was 65.
Born in Knoxville, Tenn., Bunch spent 20 years in the United Kingdom, where she studied medicine at Cambridge University and specialized in pediatric neurology. She returned to the U.S. in 1993 and trained at St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Center, now Regions Hospital, in St. Paul, Minn. She then completed residency in child neurology in UF’s division of pediatric neurology, serving as chief resident for two years. Bunch went on to practice in Savannah, Ga., and St. Petersburg, Fla., before returning to Gainesville in 2010 as an assistant professor and director of the pediatric neurology residency program.
Such was her impact on patients and their families that some traveled from other cities to see her in Gainesville. Her dedication was remarkable — she continued to work until her final days.
“Dr. Bunch dedicated her life, heart and spirit to the care of children,” said Scott Rivkees, M.D., department of pediatrics chair. “She was an inspiration to us all and we are deeply moved by the loss of our good friend. Her legacy lives on in the thousands of boys and girls that she cared for and in the hundreds of trainees that she educated.”
Myron W. “Bill” Wheat Jr.
Pioneering UF heart surgeon Myron W. “Bill” Wheat Jr., M.D., whose team performed Florida’s first open-heart surgery in 1959, passed away in September. He was 88.
“We have lost a great leader who paved the way for many generations of physicians and helped make new treatments available to numerous patients in Florida and around the country,” said Michael L. Good, M.D., dean of the UF College of Medicine.
Wheat came to the UF College of Medicine in 1958, shortly after the college’s founding, serving as an assistant professor of surgery and chief of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery. Under Wheat’s direction, Florida’s first open-heart surgery was carried out at Shands at UF, and the UF cardiovascular surgery program became a leading diagnostic, heart surgery and heart research center in the Southeast. In 1968, Wheat was named director of professional services and chief clinical physician at Shands at UF.
“He attracted good physicians, and people came from all over the state to receive care here,” said William Pfaff, M.D., a UF professor emeritus who was on the College of Medicine faculty at the same time as Wheat.
After 14 years at UF, Wheat went on to hold faculty positions at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and the University of South Florida College of Medicine.
John J. Ross
Longtime UF pediatric neurologist John J. Ross, M.D., who helped found a novel program for children with learning disabilities and in recent years became an advocate for patients in need of lung transplants, passed away in July. He was 83.
“Dad genuinely believed he was put on this Earth to serve others and make a difference in their lives,” said his son, John Ross II. “He had a real zest for life. He had tremendous energy and constantly looked for opportunities where he could make a difference in the lives of others — in all areas of his life.”
A professor emeritus of pediatrics, Dr. Ross joined the UF faculty in 1965 as chief of the division of pediatric neurology, a position he held for decades. In 1981, he teamed with UF special education experts from the College of Education to establish a novel program for children with learning disabilities called the Multidisciplinary Diagnostic and Training Program.
Ross was never one to let obstacles come between him and doing something that would help others, especially children, said his colleagues and family. A lifelong athlete, in 2009, he established a community program for parents, coaches and young athletes to learn about proper training and nutrition to help ward off sports-related injuries.
“He was not just a great tennis player, which he was; a great doctor, which we all know; and a wonderful family man, friend and mentor. He was also someone who made others feel like they mattered,” said Paul Carney, M.D., chief of neurology in the UF department of pediatrics. “We will miss him. He is one of a kind.”