Memorial Service for Dr. Charles Witte March 20

Jo Gellerman
March 13, 2003

Dr. Charles L. Witte, a founding faculty member of the surgery department when the University of Arizona College of Medicine opened its doors 34 years ago, died Friday, March 7. He was 67.

A memorial service will be held on Thursday, March 20, 4:30 p.m., at DuVal Auditorium, University Medical Center, 1501 N. Campbell Ave>

Dr. Witte, a professor and general surgeon in the Division of General Surgery, made major contributions to the department and the College of Medicine as a mentor, scholar, humanitarian and caring physician, says Dr. Allan J. Hamilton, chairman of the surgery department.

"He was committed to providing the highest quality of care for his patients and highest quality of training to surgical residents and medical students," Dr. Hamilton said.

As a researcher, Dr. Witte built an international reputation as an expert in lymphology. He and his wife, Dr. Marlys H. Witte, also professor of surgery, established the only lymphological laboratory in the United States devoted to both basic and clinical investigation of lymphatic circulatory disorders.

In 1994, the Witte's organized a Comprehensive Lymphedema-Angiodysplasia Diagnostic and Treatment Center. They also joined with philosopher Ann Kerwin, PhD, in developing the "Curriculum on Medical Ignorance," a teaching approach that emphasizes questions rather than answers and, as a learning tool, has generated wide interest among elementary, high school, college and medical educators.

Dr. Witte authored or co-authored more than 400 articles and chapters, and for the past 20 years, was editor-in-chief of "Lymphology," the premier international journal devoted to the study of the lymphatic system. He received international recognition for his landmark studies in lymphology, including election to the National Academy of Medicine of Brazil.

Dr. Witte was the 1995 Founders Day Speaker, the highest honor given by the College of Medicine faculty to one of its own members.

"No one who knew Chuck will ever forget his charm, wit, and unrelenting intellectual approach to everything from science to baseball. Professor Witte spent 34 years gracing our halls and his last day on 6 East, still surrounded by the students, residents, faculty, and yes, even administrators whose affection and respect he enjoyed," said Dr. Kenneth J. Ryan, interim dean of the UA College of Medicine.

Dr. Witte is survived by his wife, Dr. Marlys Witte, his three adult children, Pamela Swartzel, Andrea Witte and Dr. Russell Witte, and three grandchildren, Jake and Cynthia Swartzel and Lorena Witte.

The Charles L. Witte Endowed Professorship
The UA surgery department launched a campaign I January to establish the Charles L. Witte Endowed Professorship of Surgery. The endowment will enable the department to recruit prominent faculty, further strengthening its mission to provide the highest quality patient care, education and research programs. The goal is to raise $500,000 in the next two years.

Donations to the endowment should be made to the Charles L. Witte Endowment Fund/UAF. Mail to the Department of Surgery, University of Arizona, PO Box 245066, Tucson, AZ 85724-5066.

For more information, call Jo Marie Gellerman, UA Department of Surgery Community Affairs, (520) 626-7219.