Posted on: February 19, 2018
William (Bill) Thurman was born July 1, 1928 to Theodosia Mitchell and Horace Edward Thurman, Sr., in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. He attended public schools in Jacksonville Beach, Brunswick, Georgia and Jacksonville. Upon completing high school, he served in the 101st Army Airborne Division (Screaming Eagles). Post military service, he graduated from the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) and McGill University School of Medicine (Montreal), completed a pediatric residency at Charity Hospital, New Orleans followed by a pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship at Tulane Medical Center, Detroit Children’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital.
His academic career focused on teaching pediatrics at Tulane, Emory University (Atlanta) and Cornell University (New York City) as well as Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (New York City) where he became the first chairman of pediatrics in the history of the center. Subsequently he served as chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Virginia for eight years, leaving to become dean of the Tulane University Medical School. After Tulane, William served as the vice president for medical affairs and provost of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
In 1981, he returned to research, serving as president of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation for 18 years. Research was always at the forefront of his interest; he served on numerous committees at the National Institutes of Health and as an assistant to the Surgeon General of the United States. Although academics was his central focus for numerous years, he never lost his desire to help children and promote awareness for the obstacles impaired children face in life. He actively organized and promoted fundraising events to ensure monies and awareness in the community for their needs, assisting with development and fundraising for the construction of a new campus for The Children’s Center in Bethany, Okla.
He took his civic responsibilities seriously working tirelessly for the American Red Cross, United Way and Children’s Miracle Network. He served as the first physician to hold the office of Chairman of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.
A loving father and devoted husband, he is survived by his loving wife, Gabrielle, daughters Anne, Allison and Stephanie, eight grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by a son, Andrew, a sister, Sara Cutchen, and a brother, H. E. Thurman, Jr. He has a surviving sister, Katie Allison living in Jacksonville, Florida.
Bill requested no memorial service, celebration of life or flowers. In his memory, memorials may be made to Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, 825 N. E. 13th Street, Oklahoma City, OK, 73104, to the cardiovascular research program.