Obituary of Gerald C. Zumwalt
GERALD CATLIN ZUMWALT, M.D.
Dr. Gerald (Jerry) Catlin Zumwalt passed away January 30, 2019, in Crested Butte, Colorado. Jerry, an avid skier and world traveler, departed this life while pursuing his passion for skiing on Mt. Crested Butte. He was 87.
Jerry was born May 6, 1931, in Vinita, Oklahoma, the youngest child of Virgil Wade and Mabel Catlin Zumwalt. His parents owned and operated a corner grocery store in Vinita before starting the Afton newspaper when Jerry was in college. Jerry graduated as Valedictorian of the Vinita High School Class of 1949.
Jerry attended Oklahoma Baptist University for one year, transferring to the University of Oklahoma, where he studied for two years before being accepted to OU Medical School. At OBU, he met the greatest love of his life, Dorothy Jean Finton. They married August 23, 1953, at OBU, and were delighted by the births of three children: Kurt Wade Zumwalt, Kristin Zumwalt Woolery, and Gretchen Zumwalt Smith (Douglas Smith). Jerry and Dorothy were blessed with four grandchildren: Patricia Wade Zumwalt DeBolt and her husband Nick, Philip Catlin Kennedy, Colin Horn Kennedy, and Benjamin Joseph Woolery, now deceased; and five great grandchildren: Benson Zumwalt Woolery, Onyx Horn Kennedy, Salem Don Kennedy, Baker Wade DeBolt and Lincoln Philip DeBolt.
Jerry and Dorothy were passionately in love, and he devoted much of the last few years to her care. She passed away September 1, 2018, at the age of 86, following a lengthy illness. While Jerry was quiet and somewhat reserved, Dorothy had a dynamic personality, and he adored her throughout their lives. They were both active in the community and in politics. Jerry served as Alternate Delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1968. Shortly after, Dorothy became a well-known figure in both local and national Republican politics and was proud to have met five Presidents over the years. Jerry and Dorothy were active members of the First Presbyterian Church of Sapulpa, where Jerry loved singing in the choir and, more recently, volunteering in the soup kitchen.
After graduating second in his class of 100 from medical school in 1956, Jerry served his internship in St. Louis and in 1957, joined the Air Force as a physician in Del Rio, Texas. Dr. Z, as he was affectionately known by a host of patients and colleagues, opened his practice July 1, 1959, in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. He served for 59 years as a distinguished family medicine practitioner, dedicated to providing quality medical care to all, regardless of means. In furtherance of those ideals, Jerry served as Medical Director of the Creek County Health Department since 1959 and worked hard to obtain funding to support its vital mission. After retiring from private practice, he continued caring for patients in local nursing homes and Miller Hospice.
Jerry was often seen on the sidelines of Sapulpa Schools sporting events, where he volunteered as team doctor, giving free physicals to team members for 25 years. For the past twenty years, he provided free sports physicals for all Sapulpa schools Special Olympians and was one of their greatest fans. Jerry was also a devoted fan of the OU Sooners, and enjoyed attending games with his son Kurt, his granddaughter Patti and her husband Nick, and his best friend, the late Dr. Robert G. (Bob) White.
In 1987, Governor Henry Bellmon appointed Jerry as a Member of the Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision. During his tenure, he served as Board Secretary (1988-2014) and as Medical Director (1994-2014). Upon his retirement, the OBMLS recognized Jerry for his “outstanding service as Board Secretary...and his dedication to protection of the public and citizens of Oklahoma” and named the OBMLS Board Room in his honor.
Jerry and Dorothy shared a love of education, lifelong learning and literature. He was published in various medical journals and, also, wrote short stories for the enjoyment of his family and friends. In an article he wrote upon the occasion of his retirement from the OBMLS, Jerry acknowledged advances in modern medicine and lamented the loss of personal relationships, time and attention he felt privileged to share with his patients in family practice in earlier days. Quoting Robert Louis Stevenson, he wrote, “…the physician…brings air and cheer into the sick room and often enough, though not as often as he wishes, brings healing.”
In 1995, Jerry was honored as Sapulpa Doctor of the Year by the Creek County Medical Society where Dr. White, his former partner, reflected on their relationship. “A real friend is always there…he is loyal, he cares, he listens. A real friend is supportive, he helps you develop ideas, ideals and ambitions… He supports you when you are right, and never fears to correct or criticize when you are wrong. Your lives become intertwined, inseparable. Jerry has been my real friend…”
The Zumwalt family would like to invite family and friends to share in a celebration of Jerry’s life at 5:00 PM, Friday, February 8, 2019, at Freddie’s Steakhouse Banquet Hall, 1425 New Sapulpa Road, Sapulpa, OK.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the: Sapulpa Public Library, 27 West Dewey Avenue, Sapulpa, OK 74066; Oh Be Dogful Rescue (canine rescue) at ohbedogful.com; or the charity of your choice.