GIBSON CITY – Dr. Paul W. Sunderland, 95, a longtime area family physician and a man who loved his family and his community, died at 10:15 a.m. Jan. 16, 2015, at Gibson Area Hospital Annex.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, at the First Presbyterian Church, 401 N. Church St., Gibson City, with the Rev. Michael Brazelle officiating.
A private funeral and burial at Willow Brook Cemetery in Fisher will precede the service.
Following the memorial service, a luncheon will be served at the church to provide time for conversation between family members and many friends.
Dr. Sunderland was preceded in death by his friend, love and wife of 73 years, Mildred Louise Anderson Sunderland, who died Dec. 26, 2014. The couple was married Oct. 3, 1941.
His parents; beloved youngest daughter, Linda V. Sunderland; grandson, Vinnie Gee II; and Mary Kay Paden Sunderland, his wife from 1938-1940, also preceded him in death.
Dr. Sunderland is survived by three of the couple’s four children, Gale W. (the Rev. Douglas) Sunderland, Cody, Wyo.; Karen (Larry) Smith, Loda; and the Rev. Steven (Justina) Sunderland, Tampa, Fla.
He also is survived by five grandchildren, including Eric Gee of Gibson City; 11 great-grandchildren; a nephew and two nieces; and his brother, Dr. Dale Sunderland, Decatur, who is also a physician.
Paul Wesley Sunderland was born March 19, 1919, in Fisher, the older son of Glade W. Sunderland and Zora Moore Sunderland.
Dr. Sunderland was a 1936 graduate of Fisher High School. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was a 1942 graduate of the U of I College of Medicine at Chicago.
While serving with the U.S. Navy from June 1942 to July 1947, he completed a medical internship at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., and following World War II, a thoracic surgery residency at the Great Lakes Naval Station hospital in North Chicago. His other duty stations included the Fleet Marine Force and the First Marine Division serving in the Pacific and south China.
Following military service, he established a family medical practice in Gibson City in 1947. For 47 years, he provided medical care to patients from birth to death until his retirement in 1994. His practice included obstetrics, surgery and limited orthopaedic services.
As a charter member of then Gibson Community Hospital’s active medical staff, Dr. Sunderland played an active role in establishing, planning and supporting the community hospital which opened in November 1952. This successful nonprofit organization has grown to provide numerous medical services to Ford County and a large surrounding service area.
One of his most important contributions to the hospital’s success was to actively recruit and often give initial financial guarantees to fellow physicians throughout his time in practice. He continued to support the hospital, becoming an organizer and founding board member in 1999 of Gibson Area Hospital Foundation.
He also was active in many professional organizations including Ford County Medical Society, Illinois State Medical Society, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Practice of which he was a Diplomate.
Even with his professional obligations, Dr. Sunderland lived a life of community service. Heading that list was being a faithful member of the First Presbyterian Church, from which he tried to set an example of proper living and Christian worship. He also was a longtime member and past president of Gibson City Lions Club, member of Gibson City Board of Education, co-founder of the Gibson Area Music Foundation in 2008, and founder of Gibson Area House Rehab Foundation in 2014.
His favorite hobby was singing, beginning solos at age 6 with his mother’s piano accompaniment. For many years he was a tenor in the church choir and local production of Handel’s “Messiah.” Other hobbies included photography, world travel with his wife, oil painting, fishing and water sports.
Dr. Sunderland wished to be remembered as a man who loved his family, faith and community. The family expresses appreciation to the community, the church, Gibson City Clinic (especially Dr. David Hagan), and the wonderful Annex staff members who provided excellent care since he became a resident there in 2010.
Memorial contributions may be made to First Presbyterian Church, 401 N. Church, Gibson City, IL 60936; Gibson Area Hospital Foundation, P.O. Box 429, Gibson City, IL 60936; or Gibson Area Music Foundation, P.O. Box 152, Gibson City, IL 60936.