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Macon Chronicle-Herald - Macon, MO
  • DR. VERNON LIGHTFOOT

  • OBITUARY
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  • LIGHTFOOT, VERNON FRANCIS, M.D., died peacefully of heart failure 31 October 2013 in the presence of his family at his home of 56 years, age 93.  Only son of Frank and Pearl May Waters Lightfoot, born 05 May 1920 in Devol, Cotton County, OK.  
    Raised in Coffeyville, KS, he possessed a fierce but optimistic will to succeed all his life.
    While participating in theater (“that’s where the good looking girls were”) at junior high, he was inspired to become a physician after acting one in a play.  Knowing his oil worker father, who only had a third grade education, could not support his ambition, Vern built himself up physically to qualify for an athletic scholarship.  He drank so much milk, over two gallons a day, his Dad bought him a cow named Betsy, which he remembered fondly to his last days.  After playing one year of football at junior college, he got his scholarship and played for the University of Missouri on their Hall of Fame 1942 Sugar Bowl team under the late Don Faurot.  At Mizzou, he met and wooed his late wife, Megan Fay “Peggy” Gronoway.
    WWII caused radical change.  He enlisted in the Navy medical service (“they didn’t require you to drill like the Army”), and entered Missouri’s 2-year medical school on an accelerated schedule.  He finished medical school at Northwestern University in Chicago where he played for the Wildcats under the late Glenn “Pappy” Waldorf.  Upon graduation in 1945, he married Peggy (“her Dad wouldn’t let us marry until I had the M.D.”) and the same day shipped out for his internship at Mare Island Naval Base.  He did his service requirement at bases in the Bay Area and Stockton.  He and Peggy liked the area so well they decided to settle in the West.  A ruptured appendix delayed his entrance into residency training.  He moved to Macon, MO and assisted his father-in-law, the late Terrence P.  “TP” Gronoway, M.D., in his general practice while living with him at his house on Rutherford Street.  At the end of the long workday, they would go to the back of the Millers Rexall Drugstore on Vine Street and discuss the day’s news and events with Richard C. “Dick” Miller.    
    After completion of his residency in ophthalmology at the University of California San Francisco, he eventually moved his growing family to Santa Rosa, CA.  He was one of a cohort of physicians who came to postwar Santa Rosa and by his expertise and support helped make the Memorial Hospital there a well-respected regional referral center.
    He very much wanted his children and grandchildren to succeed, and was a devoted supporter of their activities, including presidency of the Santa Rosa Neptune Swim Club and of the Santa Rosa High School Boosters.  He was also a former Deacon of the 1st Presbyterian Church, and past president of the Cordes Eye Society of the UC Department of Ophthalmology.
    Page 2 of 2 - After his two oldest sons joined his practice, he retired in 1988 and was able to devote more time on his avocations that included astronomy; woodworking, particularly turning toys for his grandchildren out of walnut that his father and he had harvested; gardening; and birdwatching, which he did up to his last days.  He also enjoyed traveling.  He was an inventor, recently acquiring two patents, and an author, publishing the book “Buddy, What Happened?”, which demonstrated his unique humor and love of puns and word play.  Sadly, “Humor Being”, his last book, will remain unfinished.  
    He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Madeline B. Lightfoot Maiden (George).  He is survived by his six children: Dan Lightfoot, M.D. (Meta) of Santa Rosa, CA; David Lightfoot, M.D. (Marsha) of Santa Rosa, CA; Kent Lightfoot, PhD. (Roberta) of El Cerrito,CA;  Jill Hale (Dave) of Sebastopol,CA; Mark Lightfoot, J.D. (Leslie) of Lancaster, PA; Mary Lightfoot of Belvidere, IL; 13 great grandchildren; one great grandchild.
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