December 29, 1926 - July 26, 2014
William Clarence “Dr. Bill” Sunderwirth passed away peacefully in his sleep on Saturday, July 26, 2014.
Dr. Bill leaves behind his wife of 46 years, Karen L. (Daily) (Hammer) Sunderwirth, and several children and stepchildren: Paula (Sunderwirth) Guernsey, Jama (Sunderwirth) Eidson, Lisa (Sunderwirth) Lawrence, Stacy (Sunderwirth) Caraway, Donald Hammer, Karen J. Hammer, Bruce Hammer, and Mary (Hammer) Reichard. He married Wilma Jean Payne in 1950 and they had four daughters. He married Karen Lou Daily in 1968. He leaves behind 15 grandchildren, 5 great-children, brother- in -law Rich Randol, nieces and nephews, and his beloved friends as well as his cat, CPO.
He was born December 29, 1926 in Burlington, Kansas to Clarence and Ruth (O’Rear) Sunderwirth. The youngest of three children, his sisters were Ruby Ruth (Sunderwirth) Randol and Betty (Sunderwirth) (Belcher) Pollard. They and their parents preceded him in death, with Betty passing away just two days before Dr. Bill.
Dr. Bill practiced medicine for 51 years as a board certified general practitioner, a career he chose at age five. After serving as a Corpsman in the Navy from 1944-46, Dr. Bill graduated from the Kansas City College of Osteopathy and Surgery in 1953. He interned at Wetzel Hospital in Clinton, MO and began his medical career in El Dorado Springs, MO where he practiced with his father, Dr. C.H. Sunderwirth. In 1979 he moved to Springfield, MO where he practiced until he retired in 2004 at age 77. During those years, Dr. Bill trained many student doctors and he was careful to teach the compassionate side of medicine. He was beloved as a doctor who listened well, cared greatly and treated all with dignity wherever he went.
Dr. Bill provided care to people in nursing homes, house calls, at his office, and even when he met them on the street. He and Karen saw fifty patients or more every day in their medical office, turning no one away regardless of ability to pay. He often said, “We took care of a lot of poor people. We never had a patient that we didn’t like.” He delivered thousands of babies and sat at deathbeds to offer comfort. He was an exemplary physician and a fine representative of his profession.
Recognition came often. A few examples: Family Physician of the Year, Jefferson Award, Missouri Osteopathic Medallion Award. He was active in civic organizations throughout his life: President of the Ozark, Southwest, and West Central Districts of the Osteopathic Association; State Delegate for the Osteopathic profession; Chamber of Commerce; Boy Scouts; Freemasons; North Springfield Betterment Association; Missouri Foxtrotters; Rotary Club, and many others.
His final 2 ½ years were spent at the Missouri Veterans Home in Mt. Vernon, MO, where he tended his roommate and pushed those in wheelchairs to the cafeteria. He was still helping friends on his final day. He served as president of the resident’s council there. As he had throughout life, he arose at 5 AM for coffee and the news to inform him for a rousing discussion later in the day.
Dr. Bill loved and appreciated his fellow veterans and the excellent care he received from staff at the Missouri Veterans Home.
He loved his family, riding horses and visiting with friends. Everyone was his best friend. The most important thing to him: belief in Jesus Christ and the resurrection of the dead.
No kinder man, no gentler soul, no better doctor. Dr. Bill, you will be missed.
Friday, August 1, 2014 at noon: Missouri Veteran’s Cemetery interment ceremony, 5201 S Southwood Rd, Springfield, MO.
Saturday, August 9, 2014 an opportunity to sign a guest book and offer condolences for Dr. Bill will also be at the memorial for his sister Betty Pollard at Sheldon Funeral Home, 2111 Missouri 32, El Dorado Springs, MO. Visitation noon, service 1 pm.
Memorial donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to: Central Christian Church, 1475 N. Washington Avenue, Springfield, MO 65802. Mention it is for Culture Club in honor of Dr. Bill.