Mass for Deceased Physicians

James Patrick Diestel, Jr., MD, FACP

Peacefully passed away on Sunday, February 22, 2015 in San Francisco, CA, surrounded by his family. Born on June 19, 1928 in Butte, MT, Dr. Diestel was a prominent physician and the former Chief of Staff of St. Mary's Hospital, San Francisco, CA. He was a long-time parishioner and Eucharistic Minister of St. Brendan's Catholic Church, and after several pilgrimages to Lourdes, France, had a knighthood bestowed on him by the Knights of Malta. Married for over fifty years to Claire E. Diestel, Jim and Claire raised ten children on San Francisco's Mt Davidson. He is survived by his ten children, twenty-four grandchildren, and six great grandchildren … with three more on the way: James P. III (Lorraine) - James IV (Nicole w/James V), Mathew (Eleni), Kevin, Kyle, and Ashley; Richard S. (Christina) - Nicole (Patrick w/Chloe, Bridget, Brendan), Danielle (James w/Luke), Joseph (Lisa), and Tyler; Michael J. (Peggy) - Phillip and Tessa; Michelle M. Buhler (Steven) - Steven, Charles, and Robert; Cheryl M. Vampola (John) - Kenneth (Christa-Lynn w/Nathan), Stephen, Lisa, and Kathleen (Andrew); Daniel G. (Layne) - Marli and Thomas; Heidi M. Tate (David) - David (Tara), Michael, Daniel, and Matthew; Timothy J. (Feliza); Wayne T.; Bryan C. (Yuli). Quite a legacy for an only child. 

The son of James P. Diestel, Sr. and May Diestel, Jim served in the U.S. Navy and graduated from Loyola University, Chicago, IL and Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. He had a passion for learning and a love for the outdoors, particularly hiking with his family in the higher elevations of Yosemite National Park. He was an old-school physician who made regular house calls throughout his 40+ year private practice, serving as the family doctor for several generations of families throughout the City. A Visitation Vigil will be held and a Rosary offered at St. Brendan's Church, 29 Rockaway Avenue, San Francisco, CA on Sunday, March 1 at 6:00-7:00 PM (Vigil) and 7:00-8:00 P.M. (Rosary). A Mass of the Resurrection will be held at St. Brendan's Church on Monday, March 2 at 11:00 A.M. followed by burial services at Holy Cross Cemetery, 1500 Mission Road, Colma, CA. 

Michael B. Flanagan, MD

After enjoying this Chirstmas with his entire family, he passed away in Kenwood on December 30, 2014. Dearly beloved husband of almost 63 years to the late Vera Payne Flanagan; Beloved father of Michael A. Flanagan and his wife Jamie, Amanda J. Pfafflin and her husband Larry and Veronica M. Flanagan; Adored grandfather of Vanessa Pfafflin, Elizabeth Pfafflin, Brendan Flanagan, Maureen Flanagan and Kevin Flanagan. Michael was born in Sligo, Ireland. He was a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland and served in the British Navy during WWII. Michael was a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He worked at St. Mary's Hospital in San Francisco from 1953-1980 and at Silas B. Hayes Military Hospital at Fort Ord in the Monterey area from 1980-1987. 

Michael was a Knight in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher. He had lived in San Francisco for 25 years, Carmel for 25 years, later moved to Oakmont in Santa Rosa and then to Green Acres in Kenwood at the end of his life. Funeral, Burial and Rosary Services are pending. Please contact Daniels Chapel of the Roses (707-525-3730) or Star of the Valley Catholic Church (707-539-6262) for further details. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa, 987 Airway Court, Santa Rosa, CA 95402. 

Colonel (Ret.) James P. Geiger, MD

Dr. James Geiger passed away peacefully at home on April 16, 2015. James was born and raised in southwestern Pennsylvania, graduated from Washington and Jefferson College, and earned his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. James proudly served his country for 23 years with integrity, dedication, and distinction in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army. For his service he received 13 awards and decorations, including the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct, an award that he earned twice in his career. His army career included service in Europe, the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, and postings across the United States from West Point, NY to San Francisco, CA. While in Vietnam he served as The Surgical Consultant to the U.S. Army for one year. James concluded his military service as the Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. After his military retirement, James continued his medical practice for 27 more years as a cardiothoracic surgeon in San Francisco at St. Mary's Medical Center and in Marin County at Marin General Hospital. He was highly valued as a skilled surgeon and as an astute clinician. 

Throughout his medical career James found great purpose and fulfillment while teaching young physicians the science and art of medicine. He was a man of honor and dedication who helped countless people in his lifetime of service. James was an enthusiastic sailor at San Francisco Yacht Club, he served a term as commodore at Presidio Yacht Club, and he enjoyed golf at Marin Country Club. James loved travel, enjoyed wines and wineries, and enjoyed socializing with friends and colleagues. Above all, he cherished his wife, family, and home life. James was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He is survived by Helen, his wife of nearly 65 years; and their children, James L. Geiger (Cheryle), Susan Kearns (Allen), Lisa Geiger (Graeme), and Margret Lordon (Stephen); nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. 

The memorial service will be held at Peace Lutheran Church, Mill Valley, CA on May 2 at 2 P.M. with a reception to follow. Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Dr. James P. Geiger may be made to the American Heart Associationor the American Lung Association. 

Charles Harry Lithgow, MD
April 8, 1924 - June 5, 2014

Died June 5 after a severe stroke. Charles was born in Altoona, Pa., to Charles A. and Eva Lithgow; his father was a physics professor who taught him latin and Greek and fished with him on Chesapeake Bay. He obtained his B.A. at Johns Hopkins, and M.D.from University of Maryland. After graduation (summa cum laude) he joined the U.S.Public Health Service and held the following positions: Chief, Surgical Services - Tumor Service at USPHS Baltimore; Chief Surgical Services USPHS Detroit. Mich. He opened a private practice as Chief Surgeon, in Crisfield, Md. and while going about his work, desegregated the local hospital. After two years he returned to the USPHS as Deputy Chief at Staten Island, N.Y. He ended his 21years as a Captain in the Public Health Service and Chief, Dept. of Surgery at USPHS/Presidio, San Francisco in 1979. He then joined St. Mary's Hospital as Acting Director of Surgical Residency program and Director of Medical Education, as well as serving on the Board. During this time he was Assistant Clinical Professor of surgery and taught medical students, interns and residents at USPHS San Francisco, UCSF, and St. Mary's. 19 years later he left to become part of the Wall Medical Group, finally retiring in 1993 after 50 years of practicing medicine. 

He volunteered for many public service committees both national and local, including 15 years on the board of Whistlestop; he played the clarinet for 17 years with the Sewer Band (Las Gallinas Sanitary District Non-marching Band). He was a member of many medical and scientific societies and contributed to a wide range of charities. Above all, he was a kind man, a man for all seasons who was a skilled surgeon, talented musician, great bridge player, a Humanist, artist, interested in astronomy, travel and an enthusiastic golfer at Marin Country Club. He was predeceased by Lois, the mother of Michael and Deborah (both deceased). He is survived by his wife Beverly, former daughter-in-law Suzanne Shoup, three grandchildren: Barbara, Sara and Travis and five great grandchildren. At his request no services will be held, but a Celebration of Life is planned.

James Phipps, MD

Dr. Phipps passed away peacefully at the age of 94 on Saturday, December 6th at his home in Bodega, CA surrounded by his family. Dr. Phipps (Jim) was born in Cleveland, Ohio to Frank and Lucille Phipps. He spent his early years growing up in Garrettsville, Ohio and Cleveland, Ohio with many extended family nearby. Jim graduated from Cleveland's "original" East High School in 1937 and worked in Cleveland's Main Library and as a machinist for a few years. He attended Western Reserve University and John Carroll University (Class of 1943). In fall 1943 he began medical school as a Navy Midshipmen (as required during World War II) at St. Louis School of Medicine. After completing his medical studies in 1947, he worked as a general practitioner at the Frisco Railroad Dispensary and as a house physician at the United States Public Health Service. He later completed his residency in orthopedics at St. Louis University Hospitals. Dr. Phipps began work as an orthopedic surgeon at the Public Health Service on Staten Island, New York just as the Korean War began in 1950. 

He and his family were later transferred to Baltimore and then again to San Francisco where he finally settled with his family. In San Francisco Dr. Phipps worked as an orthopedic surgeon at St. Mary's Hospital and at Southern Pacific Hospital and again at Public Health Services Hospital as head of Orthopedic Surgery. In 1974 he and his wife built a home in Bodega and settled there upon his retirement in 1985. Together they volunteered as Master Gardeners at the Sonoma Humane Society Garden Project, as project coordinators providing support for at-risk children. 

James is survived by Theresa, his wife of 70 years, his children, Paul, Tom and his wife Laurie, Dan and his wife Elein, and Ned and his wife Joanne. James was a lifetime learner and believed in education, hard work and family. He was the proud grandpa of 13 grand children and one great grandchild. He will be greatly missed. 

Thomas H. Russell, MD

Dr. Russell passed away on August 4th, following a long battle with cancer. Dr. Russell was born in San Francisco on September 20, 1940. He received his medical degree from Creighton University in 1966. A surgical internship at San Francisco General Hospital followed and was interrupted by his service in US Navy during the Vietnam War. He completed his surgical training at UCSF including a research year in pancreatic surgery Paris, France. Upon his return, he joined the surgery practice of Drs. Gallagher and Volpe, specializing in General and Colon & Rectal Surgery. 

Dr. Russell was a member of the St. Mary’s Medical Staff for nearly 20 years, until 2000. Dr. Russell is survived by his wife, Dr. Nona Chiampi Russell; his daughters, Dr. Katie Russell and Jackie Russell; his sister, Susie Tompkins Buell, two nieces and numerous other extended family. Services will be private. The family requests donations in remembrance of Dr. Russell be made to The Thacher School in Ojai (his alma mater), the SF Achievers (a San Francisco public high school mentoring and scholarship program) or the Thomas Russell Scholarship Fund of the American College of Surgeons in Chicago, IL. 

Barrett Henry Weber, MD

Dr. Weber , respected San Francisco surgeon, outdoorsman, dedicated family man, and poster child of the "Greatest Generation" passed away and moved on to the Heavens, surrounded by family at the age of 90. He was born in St Louis Missouri to Florence Groschen and Lawrence Barrett Weber, the Ford Dealer of St Louis. He was a product of the depression, influenced by its hard lessons. When his parents separated, his mother moved his sister and him to California at a very early age. The Jesuits of Saint Ignatius in San Francisco and the Boy Scout's Troop 14 reshaped his rough draft into a lean (San Francisco city swim champion), motivated, focused, pious, and proud humanist. He was not above a little foolery as when he convinced his mostly Italian working class SI schoolmates that he was a descendant of the Italian Weber clan. He did this to win votes on his way to becoming class vice president of his '42 SI senior class. His real heritage is Czech and Irish. 

He wanted to fight in WWII with his friends, but when they saw he had an interest in and aptitude for medicine, the government directed him to complete his medical training (Stanford undergrad and medical degrees, '45 & '49) to fill the need for doctors near the front line. Though that war ended, he finished in time to serve in a M.A.S.H. unit in the Korean War. He earned a Bronze star for bravery. Though he soured on the overwhelming loss of young lives, his undying patriotism and love of country were only strengthened by those experiences and he directed his focus toward service for the sick. He finished his surgical and subspecialty surgical oncology training at Washington University's Barnes Hospital and Columbia Hospital in Missouri-top programs of their time. Somewhere in that St Louis part of the journey he bumped into the amazing Elise Broun. She refused his request for a kiss on the first date but agreed to marry him after the third date. She was definitely his better half, some would argue his better 3/4ths. 

He moved West again with her and settled into a great life in San Francisco. The times in SF were tumultuous, but they stuck to their conservative family ideals and raised 4 boys. Barrett completed a successful career in Surgery at California Pacific Medical Center and retired before his time was up. He was appointed Chief of Surgery. His life and character were also in part shaped by his love of the ocean, bodysurfing, fishing and hunting. He was poor when young (he didn't have a bedroom until he went to college), comfortable when old, and never one to waste. He was strongly opinionated, resilient, fiercely intelligent, self confident, seldom wrong, blindly Republican, and loved a good joke. His greatest loves in his last years were his wife, Elise, his family, his amazing friends, his cigarettes, and his cocktail at the end of the day. We will miss his lectures and his larger than life persona. We will honor him by trying to follow his parental role model and we will raise a glass in his memory for a long time to come. Barrett Weber was preceded in death by his wonderful wife of 55 years, Elise Broun Weber and is survived by his sister Jane Smith, sons Barrett (Connie, their children William and Bryan), Peter (Karen, their children Megan and Jack), David, and Robert (Nancy, their children Natalie, Robert and Charlie). Barrett was especially grateful for his daughters in law Karen and Nancy for their care and nurturing during his late life-he would not have lived so long nor so happy without their help.