My dad has been battling mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer of the lining of the lung caused by asbestos exposure, for the last two years. He passed away early on Sunday morning. I am devastated and heart-broken to lose him but relieved that he is no longer suffering.
So I will be taking a small break from blogging, but I will be back soon 🙂
His full obituary is after the jump.
On Sunday morning Colonel William John McQueen MD USAF (Ret.) passed away peacefully at his home. He loved his family very much and they loved him more. He will be missed and never forgotten by his wife of 32 years Karen Copas-McQueen; daughters, Kalli Katherine McQueen and Mariana Skye McQueen; and son Sean Robert McQueen (Christy).
Bill attended school in Chillicothe, Ohio and graduated Chillicothe High School in 1966. He went on to attend Ohio University, graduating cum laude in 1970 with a major in zoology.
In 1972, he was awarded a Master of Science Degree in Neuroanatomy and Physiology at The Ohio State University.
Medical School was a destiny as a grandson of Dr B.O. Burkey and a namesake of great-uncle and great-great grandfather Drs. William McQueen. Bill was awarded the degree of Medical Doctor at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health in 1975.
He served as a flight surgeon at Randolph AFB and as a flight surgeon and Otolaryngologist at Elmendorf AFB, Anchorage, Alaska; RAF Lakenheath, England; Travis AFB, Fairfield, California, and retired from Brooks AFB, San Antonio, Texas in 1996 with 21 ½ years of active duty.
Continuing his medical career in 1997, Bill became a partner with South Texas ENT Consultants in San Antonio after his Air Force retirement, until he medically retired in 2011.
He held membership in Bexar County Medical Society, Texas Medical Association, American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, American Society Military Surgeons of the US, American Board of Otolaryngology.
Bill was an avid outdoorsman from his early youth as a Boy Scout to an Eagle Scout, camping and hunting with his brother and father. He passed this love of nature to his youngest daughter, Mariana, from the age of three. The day she was born, she became his best friend and they shared many interests and hobbies. Their biggest love was going to the McQueen family tree farm in Stonecreek, Ohio to hunt or just enjoy the fields of wheat and corn that were grown on the property.
With his oldest daughter, he shared a love of classic literature, movies, museums, history, and art. He was an endless supply of knowledge and there was never an end to what he did not know. Of course he was the reigning champ of Trivial Pursuit.
With his wife, they shared a strong love for each other and wonderful marriage full of adventure and laughs. He loved antiquing and shopping at the mall. As a family, they would travel to different cities to see museum exhibitions. One of their most poignant trips in 1994 was to Scotland to the Isle of Skye, where the McQueens immigrated from, where they were touched and moved as they met many McQueen descendents on the Isle. In 1997, when their second daughter was born the memory was so special, they named her Mariana Skye. They were also able to spend 15 years traveling with the Air Force as the best days of their lives where they met many lifelong friends: The Schafer’s, The Lehman’s, The Roger’s, The Fostinis’, The Baskous’, The Primis’, The Wade’s, and Fr. Chris & Presbytera Margaritis. They were able to travel to Egypt, where they visited Karen’s cousin who was a monk at St. Catherine’s Monastery. They also visited Spain, Holland, Russia, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Greece.
Bill was a consummate story teller to all who knew him. He had a way of telling stories that everyone loved him for it. He was always happy and upbeat and it was one of his greatest traits that followed him to the day he died.
Because he spent 21 ½ years in the military practicing medicine, he was the type of doctor that treated a patient conservatively and surgery was always the last option. He did not practice medicine motivated by how much money he could make. He was loved by all of his patients and staff who worked with him, but not more than the retired military community, who he always made extra time for in the exam room and would come out with their whole military history and any claims to fame they may have had.
While at Travis AFB, he struck a friendship with General Chuck E. Yeager, who became a great friend and later a dinner guest at our house in San Antonio. Chuck liked Bill so much, he gave him several signed art pieces of him flying his P-51, the Glamorous Glennis. He also gave Bill a Waterman fountain pen that he was given as a gift after an appearance at the Paris Air Show. Chuck called it “too fancy” for himself and knew Bill only wrote with Waterman fountain pens. It was a special friendship that he treasured. He loved his military service and all the famous military dignataries he met, including the day he stood behind his wife as she shook Prince Charles of Wales’ hand at RAF Lakenheath, England during a private visit to the base.
Bill took full advantage of their assignment at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, AK where he was the only ENT physician for the military community in the state. Since he had such a great love for military history, he managed to arrange to see patients on all the out-lying islands, which no previous ENT physician had done saving the military tens of thousands of dollars of transportation costs to fly patients into Anchorage. He visited the out-lying island of Shemya, which is two miles long and four miles wide. It was a weather surveillance station during the Cold War. Bill would come home with a military artifact from the island, sometimes it was a piece of runway two or three feet long. He also loved going to Adak Station, population 326. It was an Army and Naval operating base where he would take advantage of the salmon runs and had many successful fishing adventures and avoiding bears. Also, his favorite place was Kodiak Island, which was a Coast Guard station where the fishing was unbelievable and he became very close with all of the Coast Guard staff. After his first visit, he knew he wanted to hunt a Kodiak Brown Bear and over the next four years, Bill, with Tom Brady, Dr. Alex Baskous or Dr. Steve Best, went on four hunts where they bagged a total of five bears. On the first hunt, Bill went with Dr. Steve Best and they harvested a sow, which still stands in Steve’s living room. The next hunt, he and Tom Brady each harvested a sow. Tom’s sow required several days spotting and an eventual hike up a mountain. She was a Boone and Crockett scored trophy bear, and very old. It was a challenge to get her down the mountain and into their camp once she was skinned. Bill came home with a sow Kodiak Brown Bear, his first. He eventually went on to harvest another sow, and she was made into a standing mount he named Clarabelle, who still stands in their home.
Bill will be missed by all who knew him. He was a renaissance man that people immediately connected with. He was unpretentious and humble to the core, from his family’s upbringing. He was loved by all of his extended family and will be terribly missed.
Donations may be made to the memory of William J. McQueen MD to:
St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church make notation to GOYA (Greek Orthodox Youth Assoc.,2504 N St Mary’s Street, San Antonio, TX 78212
Mariana is an active member and funds will be used for religious retreats and youth activities for all.
Or The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (curemeso.org,1317 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314
Donations will used to fund the highest quality and most promising research projects through rigorous peer reviewed studies. The foundation has helped Bill immensely with finding and guiding us to the best life-saving treatments as they do for vast community of mesothelioma-afflicted families.
The family will receive friends beginning at 5:30 P.M. on Thursday, March 28, 2013 at Porter Loring Mortuary North.
THURSDAY, MARCH 28, 2013
PORTER LORING NORTH CHAPEL
FRIDAY, MARCH 29, 2013
ST. SOPHIA GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH
2504 N. ST. MARY’S
Interment with Full Military Honors will follow in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.
Please join the family and friends in the church hall for a luncheon following the graveside service.