|Birth: ||Mar. 19, 1920|
|Death: ||Jun. 30, 2012|
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The world of Neurosurgery and the world as a whole lost a true pioneer on June 30, 2012, when Dr. Herman F. Flanigin, Jr. passed from this earthly life.
Dr. Flanigin, born March 19, 1920, in Princeton, Texas, to Herman Floyd Flanigin, Sr. and Nell Kathryn Foster, and having asthma, spent his early years with an aunt and uncle, Dr. W. A. Buice and Pearl Foster Buice. His early schooling was in Norman, Oklahoma City, and Chelsea, OK. He reunited with his parents and brothers while he attended school in Bernice, OK, and Talala, OK, where he graduated in 1937.
Dr. Flanigin was a member of Bethel Mennonite Church in Hydro, OK. From 1937 - 1940, as a premed student, he attended Northeastern State College in Tahlequah, OK. In 1940, he matriculated with the University of Oklahoma Medical School. Herman enlisted in the Naval program for medical students while he was a senior medical student. In the accelerated wartime scholastic program he received his Doctor of Medicine in December, 1943, and was commissioned as LTJG in the US Navy Reserve. To complete his internship and residency in surgery, he was placed on inactive duty. While in residency at the University of Oklahoma, he served as acting resident in neurosurgery.
During his first day of internship, he was captivated when he met Thelma Willow Thiessen, a student nurse at the University of Oklahoma. They were wed July 15, 1945. She survives him, along with 2 children, Janice Flanigin (and long-time friend, Dr. Steven Hata) of Rapid City, South Dakota and Dr. Richard Flanigin (Kim) of Little Rock, Arkansas; grandchildren, Jessica Gabaldon (Candelario) of Mayflower, Arkansas and Craig Flanigin (Lisa) of Honolulu, Hawaii; 2 great-grandchildren and 3 step-great-grandchildren. He is also survived by one brother, Robert Flanigin of Ponca City, OK and extended family. He was preceded in death by his parents, aunt and uncle; a son, Ronald Kirk Flanigin; a sister, Virginia Sue Flanigin; and 3 brothers, W. Ben Flanigin, Alfred Flanigin, and William Flanigin.
In 1946, Dr. Flanigin was called to active duty and stationed at the Naval Hospitals in Seattle, Washington, then in Bremerton, Washington, where he was able to practice neurosurgery due to his experience in this area. Upon completion of active military service, he was accepted at the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) for additional neurosurgical training where Dr. Wilder Penfield was director. His interest in the surgical treatment of epilepsy was piqued and became his subspecialty. Working with Dr. Penfield, he co-authored the 1st publication outlining the treatment of epilepsy by temporal lobectomy. It was during this time that he also associated with Dr. Herbert Jasper, Director of the EEG laboratory and neurophysiology research programs. This collaboration resulted in another landmark publication on electrographic findings in patients undergoing temporal lobectomy for seizures.
Returning to Oklahoma City in 1950, Dr. Flanigin continued for another year of neurosurgical training under Dr. Harry Wilkins, where he performed routine neurosurgical cases and was able to bring his newly acquired skills in epilepsy surgery to the Midwest. To accomplish these pioneering surgeries, Dr. Flanigin built his own cortical electrodes, borrowing an EEG machine for preoperative localization and cortical mapping of epileptogenic activity during surgery. This accomplishment led to his being able to successfully conduct the first temporal lobe resection as well as two hemispherectomies for seizures in Oklahoma. Dr. Flanigin went from private practice in Tulsa, OK, to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Neurosurgical Department in 1972, where he practiced and taught many residents by sharing his technical expertise. He left UAMS in 1980 to establish the Georgia Health Sciences University Epilepsy Surgery Program at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) in Augusta, Georgia. Upon retiring from the MCG in 1993, he and Thelma moved to Albuquerque, NM.
Then in 2003, he and Thelma, wishing to be closer to their family, moved back to Little Rock. His lifelong love of learning led him to earn a pilot's license. Not only did this lead to many family trips of exploration, but also pushed him to test for and earn his twin engine instrument rating. He used this talent to fly to remote areas of Oklahoma and surrounding states consulting and treating patients needing his neurological knowledge. Herman was a wonderful husband, father, and friend. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, sailing, flying, and other outdoor activities with friends and family, as time permitted. Herman s love of music was always a focal point during family get-togethers and was interwoven throughout his life. Though he was a man of few words, he changed many lives-not only by his actions, but also by his encouraging view of life. He always had a way of helping others see their goals and achieve their dreams. Herman will be remembered as a caring, loving, and compassionate man, who not only changed the profession he was in, but the people who got to know him. His sense of humor and listening ear will be missed by all.
Dr. Flanigin was a member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, the American Academy of Neurology, the American Medical Association, the American College of Surgeons, and the American Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery.
Funeral services will be held at Bethel Mennonite Church, Sixth & Coffey Streets, Hydro, OK, on Saturday, July 7, 2012, at 10:00 AM. Burial will follow at Bethel Mennonite Church Cemetery.
Published in The Augusta Chronicle on July 4, 2012
Bethel Mennonite Cemetery
Created by: Janet LaMotte
Record added: Jul 04, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 93028590