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Dr. William Myerly


Posted By: volunteer (email)
Date: 1/6/2017 at 19:53:10

A Celebration of Life gathering for Dr. William Myerly, age 97 of Spirit Lake, will be held Friday, January 6, 2017 from 4:00-7:00pm at Turner Jenness Funeral Home in Spirit Lake. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Lakes Regional Hospice at 2301 Hwy 71, Spirit Lake, IA 51360.

Dr. Myerly passed away January 1, 2017 at his home in Spirit Lake.

Bill Myerly was born to Mildred and Fred Myerly on a farm near Rodman, Iowa. He was the oldest of three boys, followed by John and Jim. His father passed away from cancer when Bill was a teenager, but it was during his fatherís treatment at the Mayo Clinic when he visited a medical museum and decided to become a surgeon. After undergraduate school at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa, he attended the University of Iowa and graduated from medical school in 1943. In 1941 he married Autumn Jean Swanton and began a family. John, Karen, Jerrene, and William (Bill) were born during the next 8 years. After internship in Detroit he served in the Air Force and spent time stationed in Okinawa. Following the war, he completed a surgical residency at the Methodist Hospital in Des Moines, and then stayed to join Dr. Throckmorton in a general surgery private practice. After six years of general surgery, he began specialized training in cardiac surgery on his weekends at the University of Minnesota and became the third surgeon in the United States to perform open heart surgery. He spent countless hours after his practice not only traveling and training, but also building his own heart lung bypass machine in the basement of his home and working with his team to perfect the procedures on dogs. In 1956 he successfully repaired a heart defect in a 6 year-old boy. Over the next 14 years he completed hundreds of cardiac surgeries as well as general surgery cases - no doubt influencing the lives of many.

Bill and Autumn Jean were divorced, and in 1954 he married Lois Wollenhaupt who had worked with him over the years as his surgical nurse. From this marriage two more girls joined the family, Tara and Mira. After Lois died, he married Georgia Clarity, who was also a widow, and brought 6 more children for a total of 12. The Myerly-Clarity home was a constant hubbub of activity, but there was nothing that pleased Bill more than to sit in the midst of it all. As of January 2017, he was the father of 12 children, grandfather of 20, and great grandfather of 6.

In 1970, Bill moved his family to Okoboji where they had enjoyed a summer home, and became the first trained surgeon in the area. He practiced mainly in Spencer and Spirit Lake Hospitals, but also in Pocahontas. Before his retirement in 1985, his practice grew to 3 surgeons. If Bill was accomplished as a surgeon and father, he was just as accomplished in his hobbies. He was an avid photographer, recording his remarkable life in photos and movies. He was a pilot and loved to fly, using his plane for pleasure as well as work. He had a complete wood-working shop and produced many custom pieces. He enjoyed sailboat racing on Okoboji and traveled to regattas around the Midwest during summers. He progressed to boat building, producing a racing sailboat, and then a 28-foot sailboat which slept 4. Many had doubts when he built a fiberglass plane in his garage that he intended to fly. But fly he did. Not only did he fly across the country, but he eventually sold it to an ex-Navy pilot who flew the plane in air races in California and China. Billís creative and mechanical genius was ultimately displayed in the back yard where he built the Okoboji, a 56-foot steel-hulled boat that slept 8. After his retirement in 1985, he and his first mate Georgia spent many years traveling on the Okoboji, hosting friends, family, and enjoying new adventures. He sold his boat less than ten years ago, and it is now in Alaska. He and Georgia continued to travel around the country during the winter months over the next few years. He never tired of the drive to Alaska, but he finally relinquished the keys to his car at the age of 97. He died peacefully at home, just days shy of his 98th birthday.

From Turner Funeral Home


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