Mt. Vernon Register-News

February 19, 2013

Thurman Phemister


MT. VERNON — — MT. VERNON — Thurman Lee Phemister, MD, "Dr. Corky", 69, of Mt. Vernon and Duluth, Minn., died at 8:58 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, at St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth, Minn., with his loving wife by his side.

He was born June 26, 1943, to Thurman Jefferson and Maude (Wilson) Phemister in Herrin. He married Beth Reimer November 30, 2007, in Mt. Vernon; she survives.

Corky was a 1961 graduate of Herrin Township High School, Herrin. He graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a bachelor of arts degree in 1967, a master's of science degree in 1969, and received a Ph.D from Tulane University in 1974 and his medical degree from Tulane in 1975. He served his internship and residency in general surgery at Charity Hospital of New Orleans.

He was a teaching assistant and assistant instructor at Tulane University School of Medicine in the departments of anatomy and general surgery. He served as an emergency room physician in many Southern Illinois hospitals. Early in his career he served in Pennsylvania, Alabama and Louisiana. His last employment was with Midwest Emergency Department Services as an independent contractor, ER physician. His final hospital assignment was at Good Samaritan Hospital in Mt. Vernon.

He was board certified with the American Board of Urgent Care Medicine and held numerous medical certifications. His nickname, "Dr. Corky" or just "Corky," was his preference and he told patients and friends to call him that.

He was a man of many interests. He loved horses, which he owned, raised and rode, animals of all kinds, music, dancing, coffee at Starbucks, visits to Lake Superior near his home in Minnesota, and family time. His ability to maintain longstanding friendships with childhood friends, to make new friendships with his patients and co-workers, his strong sense of humor and his love of every aspect of life was legend. His greatest love was his family and friends and the time he shared with them. He was of the Baptist faith.

He is survived by his wife, Beth Phemister, Duluth, Minn.; his children, Troy Phemister, Temecula, Calif., Dominic and Samantha Phemister, Mt. Vernon, Dustin Phemister, Mt. Vernon,  Vincenzo "Vinnie" Phemister, Fairfield, Adam Reimer, Duluth, Minn., and Jessica Brigan, Duluth, Minn.;11 grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; mother-in law, Betty Reimer, Duluth, Minn.;  several cousins; a host of high school and college friends; and countless colleagues and patients who became his friend as he served and cared for them in his lifetime.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at Faith Lutheran Church, 1104 N. 42nd St., Mt. Vernon, with Pastor Josepha Lecke officiating. A visitation will precede the service from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the church.

A gathering of family and friends for fellowship and remembrance will be held immediately following the service in the reception hall at Faith Lutheran Church.

A private interment service will follow at a later date. He was cremated.

The family requests no flowers. Memorials may be made to the family and will be accepted at the church or by mail to Beth Phemister, 1132 Missouri Ave., Duluth, Minn., 55811.

The family expresses their thanks and appreciation for the many acts of kindness and love shown to Corky during his illness. He loved each and every one, and they, in turn, showed their love for him and his family. His race was swift and filled with challenge and opportunity. He did his best, we love him still.