William L. Bourland, MD

Class Year



Posted on: May 3, 2018

Dr. William Landess Bourland passed into eternal life on April 10, 2018, at the age of 71 after a difficult struggle with Parkinson’s Disease. Bill was a renaissance man with many talents, varied interests, and much wisdom; his teacher’s heart led him to use all of his gifts and experiences to teach and help others.

Born in Memphis, Bill enjoyed his childhood in Hein Park and dearly loved his wonderful parents, Dr. Leon and Rosa Bourland. In 1965, he graduated from Central High School where he served as president of the student body and formed many lifelong friendships. At Vanderbilt University he made more dear friends as a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and graduated in 1969 with a degree in chemistry. After he earned his medical degree from the University of Tennessee, he interned at Methodist Hospital, then completed his residency in Orthopaedic Surgery at Campbell Clinic and a fellowship in hand surgery at the University of Virginia. After his training, Bill practiced at OrthoMemphis (formerly The Orthopaedic Clinic) for over 40 years with colleagues he loved and respected. He was an esteemed hand surgeon who was active in many professional organizations and served as a founder and past president of the Tennessee Hand Society. Dr. Bourland was known as much for his care of patients and mentorship of younger doctors as he was for his surgical skills and excellent medical care. He continued caring for patients even in retirement by volunteering at the Church Health Center each week.

Bill loved being a surgeon but his joy was his faith and his family. He adored his wife of 49 years, Gayle Smith Bourland, and he was the best husband and father imaginable. He supported his three daughters at every play, award ceremony or athletic event and later doted on his grandchildren, three of whom were named for him. He is survived by his wife, Gayle; his daughters and sons-in-law, and his grandchildren.

Bill was a member of First Evangelical Church for many years. He adopted Ole Miss as his team at an early age and followed Rebel athletics, particularly football, with great devotion and optimism. He was an enthusiastic chef who enjoyed great food (or any kind of ice cream) and cooking for others. A loyal friend, Bill was generous with his time, talent, and resources.

Despite the challenges of Parkinson’s Disease in recent years, Bill continued helping those around him and his generosity of spirit has left a significant impact on a broad community. His legacy will live long beyond his lifetime.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to the Church Health Center, First Evangelical Church Missions Fund, or the charity of the donor’s choice.