Chattanoogan: Dr. Walter Parkhurst Retiring After 43-Year Medical Career

Dr. Walter Douglas Parkhurst is retiring from daily patient care but will remain with Galen Medical Group in an administrative role. To say the least his patients will greatly miss him.  

Dr. Parkhurst came to Chattanooga from Virginia in 1978. He opened his office at the former Red Bank Community Hospital on Morrison Springs Road.  Dr. Bill Stem had been in Red Bank for several decades and decided to retire. Many of Dr. Stem’s patients transferred their care to Dr. Parkhurst. 

“Dr. Stem was my neighbor in North Chattanooga and told me, “Dr. Parkhurst knows medicine.” Dr. Stem said his patients “are in the best of hands.”

Dr. James Stanko and Dr. Parkhurst arrived in Chattanooga about the same time. Their offices were next door and the two doctors would “take call for each other.”

Dr. Stanko said in July, 1981, he and Dr. Parkhurst decided to partner together.  The two formed North Chattanooga Medical Associates at that time and later welcomed Dr. Wayne Scott.

Dr. Stanko said, “Dr. Parkhurst taught me so much and I couldn’t have asked for any better.”  Dr. Stanko quoted the old saying, “If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.”  Dr. Stanko said he never felt that way when in the room with Walter Parkhurst.  Dr. Stanko said, “I have been blessed for having Walter in my life.” He said Dr. Parkhurst is one of five people he is very close to.  

Julie Freudenberg, who worked for Dr. Parkhurst for nearly 40 years, said, “Dr. Parkhurst is highly principled and his empathy for patients is unparalleled.  He is gifted with a profound knowledge of subjects both medical and non-medical – and I tapped into that in seeking his advice many times.  I am honored I had the opportunity to work for him.”

My husband sent several of his broadcasting buddies to see Dr. Parkhurst including Mike King and the late Tommy Jett.  Mr. King said Dr. Parkhurst told it like it was.  Mr. Jett, a severe diabetic, said Dr. Parkhurst had at one time saved his life. 

Former Erlanger Medical Center CEO Skip Reeder labeled Dr. Parkhurst “tops in his field.”  Mr. Reeder said patients could have total trust in what Walt Parkhurst said. 

Cardiologist Dr. Carol Gruver said “treating patients under Dr. Parkhurst’s care made my job much easier. He’s one of the best.” 

Dr. Parkhurst’s patients never felt rushed.  His examinations were very thorough.  He put much thought into each diagnosis.  

He could be called “old school.”  He made lots of house calls and nursing home visits during his nearly 50-year career. That’s un-heard of today.  Dr. Parkhurst mentored many physicians in training through the UT College of Medicine at Erlanger Medical Center. 

In 1983, Dr. Parkhurst married the former Carolyn Ann Jones of Potomac, Maryland.  They have two sons and several grandchildren.

All during his practice as a Chattanooga internist, Dr. Parkhurst remained faithful to his Lord and his church, First Presbyterian of Chattanooga. He always looked forward to the Christmas Concerts in December.  You could easily spot the tall doctor on the top row.  

The late Ben Haden called Dr. Parkhurst one of the most dedicated physicians he had ever known.  Mr. Haden was Dr. Parkhurst’s  pastor for many years. 

Though he may not have had many hobbies, Dr. Parkhurst does enjoy taking his wife to the Chattanooga Symphony Concerts.  Dr. Parkhurst would sometimes talk about his love for classical music with his patients. 

He enjoyed his summer visits to the Outer Banks in North Carolina with his family.  

One of Dr. Parkhurst’s favorite subjects is cars.  He can tell you about the latest models and some of their new features.    

North Chattanooga Medical merged with the Galen Medical Group, Dec. 1, 1993.  In addition to a daily schedule of hospital rounds and treating patients in the office, Dr. Parkhurst held several key executive positions with Galen including medical director. 

It’s very hard to imagine Dr. Parkhurst retiring because through the years, his life for the most part has been his patients.  I’m sure his wife Carolyn will find a variety of things for him to do. Carolyn says the doc is a good cook and enjoys spending time in the kitchen trying out new recipes.  

Dr. Parkhurst, on behalf of our community, we thank you for an exceptional job well done.  Julie and I will greatly miss you but hope you enjoy your retirement as you turn the next page in your life.  We will even miss you performing Chubby Checker’s “TheTwist” at our Christmas parties.  

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