Private graveside services for George Robert Learned, M.D., F.I.C.S., Lawrence, KS, were held at 1:00 p.m. February 25, 2016 at Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence. He passed on February 20, 2016 at Pioneer Ridge.
A third generation Lawrencian, George was the first of six children. He was born on April 27, 1922 in Lawrence, KS, the first son of Robert and Georgia (Hanson) Learned.
As a young child, George took up the trombone and played in the Boy’s Band. He helped supplement the family income by working in the Stokley Van Camp farm fields picking seasonal produce, working in the Lawrence Box Factory and delivering papers. He graduated in 1940 from Liberty Memorial High School and then attended the University of Kansas for almost three years in Civil Engineering. As with many young men of that time, WWII interrupted his college education. George served in the Army Aircorp 367th Fighter Group as a navigator in B-29’s. Both he and his brother Albert were stationed in England while his brother Robert was stationed in the Pacific. George’s trombone went with him where he could be found playing in bands in England and France between flying missions.
Returning from WWII as a second lieutenant, George had a very different view of the world and how he wanted to serve humanity. He joined the Sigma Nu Fraternity and obtained both a Bachelor and a Master’s degree in Microbiology from the University of Kansas. During this time, he saw a picture of a very attractive Delta Gamma in a fellow Sigma Nu’s room and asked to be introduced. He married Barbara Joan Creel (Hutchinson, KS), that very attractive Delta Gamma, on September 1, 1951 in Lawrence, KS. While working on his master’s degree both he and Barbara mowed grass, scrubbed animal cages to supplement their income. While in medical school, George was also a TA in the anatomy lab and Barbara quit her college education, typing thesis’s on a manual typewriter at night while working during the day as the Secretary to the Dean of Pharmacology to help put George through medical school.
Originally headed to work in a field utilizing his Microbiology degrees he surprised Barbara with the news of his desire to enter the field of Medicine. He graduated from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 1955 as a Physician and Surgeon, a few years later becoming a Fellow of the International College of Surgeons (F.I.C.S.). Headed to Hutchinson, KS to practice medicine the plans abruptly changed when he was offered a medical partnership with Dr. Zimmer in Lawrence. George had medical practices in Lawrence and briefly in Eudora. Upon joining the staff of LMH, he used his military training to help reorganize the LMH emergency room to better facilitate the triage process. George believed when a patient called the house they needed to talk not with an answering company but with an actual person, so the phone rang at all times of the day every day of the year, including holidays. He had his young daughters convinced for some time when he went to carve the turkey it held a special connection to the ER calling. George continued the practice of house calls almost until the day he retired in 1999.
He was over a 50-year member of the Plymouth Congregational Church, a member of the Lawrence Breakfast Optimists until all the late night house calls took precedence, scientific honor society Sigma XI, VFW Dorsey Liberty Post and was a life member of the University Alumnae Association. After retirement he played trombone in the New Horizon’s Band and joined the Ham Radio Club (call sign WDØFAI).
Other survivors include two daughters, Sharon Learned, M.S., Lawrence, KS, Stephanie (Julian) Sandino, M.S., Overland Park, KS; three grandchildren, Gabriela Sandino, Nicolas Sandino, Sofia Sandino; sisters-in-law, Dixie (Wheeler) Learned, Wichita, KS and Marge Learned, Biloxi, MS; brother, Robert (Iona) Learned, Manhattan, KS, and many nephews, nieces, great-nephews and great-nieces. His wife, Barbara, preceded him in death on September 4, 2012. He was also preceded in death by his parents, brothers; Eddie, John, Albert and sister Martha.
The family would like to express their thanks for all the kind and loving care by the Pioneer Ridge staff and the Douglas County VNA Hospice, especially Melissa Transue and Christina Jordan.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorials in his name to the Lawrence Humane Society or your local humane society or the Douglas County VNA and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary.
Cards may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS or online condolences may be sent to www.warrenmcelwain.com.