Dr. John Davis Whelchel Jr., 81, died at his home in Atlanta, Georgia, on October 17, 2021. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Anna; his daughters, Mary Konieczny (Ed) and Dr. Dorothy “Dee” Whelchel (Curtis Mills); his grandchildren, Anna Konieczny Houseman (Colton), Edward Charles “Charlie” Konieczny Jr., Mary Evelyn “Mimi” Konieczny; and his sisters, Cheryl Whelchel O’Keeffe (Whitney) and Betty Ann Whelchel (Doug Kruse).
He was born on October 9, 1940, in Alma, Georgia, to John Davis “Jack” Whelchel and Charnell Ramsey. He was raised in Statesboro, Georgia, where he became an All-Star Team football player in high school and, with his high school team, won the State Championship title in 1957.
He matriculated to The Citadel on a football scholarship and, upon graduation, joined the United States Air Force. He graduated from the Medical College of Georgia in 1966, completing his residency at Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, where he later served as chief of the Organ Transplant Service. He became the first ASTS Abdominal Transplant Fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and a faculty instructor at Harvard Medical School. He later served as associate professor of Transplantation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Center and, in 1986, he was appointed Livingston Professor of Surgery at Emory University, directing the transplant programs at both Emory University and Piedmont Hospital.
He retired from Emory University in 1998 to devote his time to expanding the transplant program at Piedmont Hospital. Throughout his career, he was dedicated to the importance of organ donation, founding the Alabama Organ Bank while in Birmingham; and in Atlanta, joining forces with Dr. Dana Shires of Florida to form LifeLink of Georgia, creating lasting partnerships between LifeLink of Georgia, LifeLink of Florida and LifeLink of Puerto Rico. He served for many years as the medical director at LifeLink of Georgia and was a founding board member of the LifeLink Foundation. He loved people and he loved life. He cared deeply for his patients, taking calls at any hour of the day or night. He cared for his colleagues, nurses and staff, working alongside them through thick and thin, leading everyone toward a standard of excellence and outstanding patient care. He was the calm support in times of crisis for his family members, both immediate and extended. He loved hunting, fishing and some of his favorite times were spent in the Canadian wilds hunting duck and catching walleye. He could fix anything … especially kidneys. He was known for his trademark cowboy boots and his patients knew him by the boots and the smile. He loved a good joke and shared many with friends. But most of all, he adored his wife and his family. He was known by many names – Whelchel, Big John, Dr. J, John, Dad, Dad-Dad. He will be sorely missed. The family requests donations be made in honor of John Whelchel, MD, to either the Georgia Transplant Foundation, 2201 Macy Drive, Roswell, GA 30076, [email protected]; or to the LifeLink Legacy Fund, 9661 Delaney Creek Blvd, Tampa, FL 33619, www.secure.donorpro.com/lifelink.
Posted in: Statesboro Herald
Posted on: 2021-10-25
Link to original obituary: https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/statesboroherald/name/john-whelchel-obituary?id=31118685