Phillip A. Godwin, MD

Celebration of Life (January 24, 1928 – December 15, 2022)

“Wear the white coat with dignity and pride—it is an honor and privilege to get to serve the public as a physician.” —Bill H. Warren, MD

Phillip Andrew Godwin, MD, 94 of Lawrence was devoted to his family, church, community and the patients he served for 43 years. He took immense pride in being a “small-town family doctor.” He left this world peacefully on December 15, 2022, in the house he loved, surrounded by the family he adored.

Phillip was born to Sara L. Strong and Wendell R. Godwin in South Bend, Indiana on January 24, 1928. He lived in Northern Indiana until 1941, his junior year of high school, when his family moved to Hutchinson, KS. He held various jobs during his early years including a stint as a photographer’s assistant which sparked his life-long interest in photography. His affinity for Big Band music also found its beginnings early on as he played tuba with his high school and college bands. Phillip enrolled in Hutchinson Junior College in 1945 but paused his education to serve as a Hospital Corpsman in the Navy in Philadelphia treating injured service personnel during WWII. He returned to Hutchinson Junior College to complete his Associate of Arts in 1949 and subsequently attended the University of Kansas, earning his Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry. He worked summer jobs during these years, primarily in industries supporting the war effort. By 1955, he had obtained his MD at the KU School of Medicine, graduating with honors.

It was at this time in his life that Phillip met his life-long partner, Phoebe Schierling of Inman, KS while she was in nurses training and Phillip was a pre-med student at KU. They were married on December 23, 1951, and shared a life together for nearly 70 years. They were blessed with three children, three grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and an abundance of wonderful memories.

After Phillip completed his medical internship at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City in 1956, the young couple moved to Lawrence, where Phillip joined the practice of Drs. H. Penfield Jones, Gene Manahan, and Alex Mitchell. He subsequently established his own individual practice and later formed the Lawrence Family Practice with 3 colleagues, all the while maintaining a separate  anesthesiology practice.

In his early years at Lawrence Memorial Hospital (LMH), Phillip established the Department of Anesthesia and the first Recovery Room. With the late Dr. Monti Belot, he established the first Coronary Care Unit, that evolved into the Intensive Care Unit and which Phillip directed for 10 years. He held many positions at various times including the director of the Respiratory Care Department from its founding until Phillip retired, Chief of Anesthesia for 20 years and Chairman of the Quality Assessment/Risk Management Committee for 14 years. Medical practitioners and patients have benefited from the various cutting-edge medical procedures he introduced at LMH, including the first continuous cardiac monitoring during anesthesia and an epidural narcotic for pain relief after a Cesarian section. After a 43-year career, Phillip was appointed an emeritus staff position following his retirement in 1999.

Phillip’s intense passion for improving medical care was not bound to his work at LMH. He held numerous leadership roles and served in advisory positions for both local and national medical organizations, such as the Kansas Medical Society where he served as President, the National Association of Medical Directors of Respiratory Care, Kansas Blue Shield Cost Containment Committee, the Douglas County Comprehensive Health Planning Council, the Medical Advisory Committee to the Department of Welfare, and more. He was a charter member of the National Association of Medical Directors of Respiratory Care and the American College of Family Physicians, among other organizations. Phillip believed in providing the highest quality health care possible, and greater and affordable access to care for low-income communities, all of which motivated his tireless efforts in the medical field.

In addition to his unwavering commitment to his patients, Phillip was an extremely active member of the Lawrence community alongside Phoebe. He looked forward to church every Sunday, spending time with his Sunday School class and singing Methodist hymns. He was active in many capacities within the church and also enjoyed his Monday morning men’s coffee group.

Notably, Phillip was president of the Douglas County Environmental Improvement Council and helped to establish the riverfront parks of Lawrence. He chaired the City Commission’s committee to investigate the need for a Human Relations Committee in the 1960s and also served as President of the Douglas County Historical Society.

In 1988, Phillip was awarded a “Pioneer Award” from the Bert Nash Community Health Center for his work as a member of the Mental Health Association of Douglas County developing critical linkages between various community organizations. Phillip served on the Board of Directors for both the Douglas County Mental Health Association and Cottonwood, Inc. In 2012, Phillip was given the Cottonwood Classics Lifetime Achievement Award for his many years of commitment to this organization. Further, he was a member of the “Caring Community” coalition, was one of the founders of the LMH Endowment Association and served as the President of the Old West Lawrence Association.

Phillip also enjoyed his decades-long membership with the Lawrence Noon Kiwanis Club and he received the Kiwanis “Substantial Citizen Award” in 2002. And in 2018, Phillip and Phoebe were the first recipients of the Senior Resource Center’s Godwin Community Service Award, named in their honor for their lifetime of support for their community.

Despite the exhaustive list of boards and committees he served on (Phoebe always said “his hobby was going to meetings”), his life was so much more than these. He had a great sense of adventure and he and Phoebe loved to travel the world. Phillip enjoyed spending time fishing (but not always catching) and attending KU athletic events. He was a loyal fan of KU men’s basketball and football as well as a strong supporter of the KU women’s basketball and volleyball teams. He collected hats and walking sticks and loved his koi pond. Phillip was always ready to learn something new and could contribute meaningfully to almost any topic of discussion. He will forever be remembered for his great sense of humor and quick wit. Above all else, he loved spending time with his family and was especially fond of holiday gatherings. As his father observed, “Phillip has the best intellect, the best emotional balance, the sharpest religious insight, and a most highly implemented social conscience that I have ever known.”

Phillip wanted nothing more than to stay in his old Victorian home until his passing, which he did with the support and companionship of the Visiting Nurses and Keep Living at Home staffs.

Phillip was preceded in death by his wife, his parents, his brother Wendell E. Godwin, and infant great grandson Nolan James Godwin. He is survived by his children Gregory Godwin (Nora) of Keokuk, IA, Amy Godwin Wulfemeyer (Mark) of Leawood, KS, Andrew K. Godwin, PhD (Cecilia) of Leawood, KS; his grandchildren, Trent Godwin, Eryn Godwin, and Lily Wulfemeyer; his great grandson Mason Robert Jackson-Godwin; and numerous beloved nieces, nephews, in-laws and friends.

There will be a graveside service for family and friends on Friday December 23, 2022 at 1:00. Due to the forecasted cold, we will gather at Warren McElwain Mortuary, 120 W 13th Street, Lawrence, KS for a short interment service at 12:30 p.m., followed by a trip to Oak Hill Cemetery for final burial.  A “Celebration of Life” will be held on Saturday, January 28, 2023 at 10:30 am at the First United Methodist Church of Lawrence, 946 Vermont St, Lawrence, KS 66044, followed by a catered reception at the church.

The family requests donations in Phillip’s honor to the following:

Lawrence Memorial Hospital Health Foundation

Cottonwood, Inc

Watkins Museum of History

First United Methodist Church

Donations to the organizations listed above are to be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.

25 Condolences

  1. Kitsy Gray on December 18, 2022 at 9:12 am

    Dr. Godwin was our doctor, our neighbor, our friend. I will always remember his infectious smile that made me feel so welcomed no matter where we saw each other. He and Phoebe were amazing people who cared a lot for others. I am blessed to have had them both in my life.

  2. Marge Ryan on December 18, 2022 at 10:28 am

    Shortly after I married in September 1966, I took a job in OR as an RN at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Dr. Godwin administered anesthesia there. He was very meticulous and so impressed me that in 1967 I started anesthesia school in KC and became a CRNA. Dr. Godwin encouraged me and I’ll always remember his warm smile and sparkling brown eyes. Dr. Godwin had a positive influence on the many lives he touched.

  3. Amy Junge on December 18, 2022 at 10:49 am

    So sorry to hear of Dr. Godwin’s passing. He was our first family doctor and just the sweetest man. Our condolences to his family.

  4. Joyce & Jerry Cromwell on December 18, 2022 at 11:04 am

    So sorry to hear about Dr. Godwin. He was our family Dr when I was a kid and up until his retirement! He delivered both my kids and was also their Dr. He was a great man and awesome Dr. He had a great smile that always made you feel welcome! He will never be forgotten!

  5. Retha Figgins Nightingale on December 18, 2022 at 11:26 am

    Dr. Godwin was my parents’ doctor for many years. His advice was sound and professional care was meticulous. Phoebe and he were so kind. These are the people that made Lawrence so special. Praying for the family as they grieve.

  6. Peggy Shmalberg on December 18, 2022 at 4:52 pm

    Dr Godwin was our family doctor for many years and delivered all three of my sons. He was a wonderful doctor who was also kind, compassionate person who always took time to listen. I feel blessed to have had him taking care of my family. He will be missed.

  7. Paige Heck on December 18, 2022 at 6:39 pm

    I was one of the nurses fortunate to work with Dr Godwin. He was an awesome teacher, loved his patients, took the time to actually listen He always said if you listen they will give you their “gift”. He cared about his community also and was active there. Peace I pray for Phoebe, Greg, Andrew and Amy.

  8. Bryan Wyatt on December 18, 2022 at 7:14 pm

    Andy, Greg and Amy
    Sorry to hear of your fathers passing. Growing up; running around your home on Ohio St was my fondest memories of you guys and your parents. As you know your dad delivered us boys. He was a fine man and your mom was second to none. Best Regards and best wishes to you all during this sad time.

  9. Joyce (Sheppard) Tallman on December 18, 2022 at 8:21 pm

    Dr.Godwin was my family doctor growing up and for my children as well. He was a caring man and put up with some unusual deliveries. My mother always appreciated his care. Thoughts and prayers to
    the family!

  10. Nancy Hedrick on December 19, 2022 at 12:20 am

    I am so sorry to hear about Phil’s passing. He was an amazing man and doctor and a wonderful husband and father to Phoebe and their children. My late mother, Ann was very close to Phoebe and my late stepmother, Lee was Dr. Godwin’s nurse for many years. He was a very well respected, nice, and intelligent man. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Godwin family.

  11. Jessica on December 19, 2022 at 12:31 pm

    So sad to hear of Dr. Godwin’s passing. I had the great privilege of knowing him and Phoebe and listening to stories of their life. Such phenomenal people who shared a passion for helping others. I also happened to be one of the last babies that Dr. Godwin delivered before his retirement and actually attended his retirement party as an infant. Life comes full circle when you have the honor to care for those who once cared for you. Wishing the family peace and comfort during this time.

  12. Mark Praeger, M D on December 19, 2022 at 6:29 pm

    Dr. Godwin was one of the first colleagues I met when I arrived in 1977. He was always gracious and supportive of me, and I admired his dedication to excellent patient care. He was an excellent physician, and always participated in leadership activities, which contributed to my admiration of him.

  13. Dave Ridgway on December 19, 2022 at 6:48 pm

    Greg, Andy, and Amy – Your father was my father’s physician and, more importantly, a very good friend to him outside of his practice. My thoughts are with you during this difficult time.

  14. ken wertzberger on December 20, 2022 at 8:55 am

    Phil was a giant. The epitomy of saying “they don’t make them like they use to”. Condolences to family. RIP.

  15. Tiffany Donohoe on December 20, 2022 at 1:51 pm

    Dr. Godwin was a kind and gracious man. His wit was amazing! I am privileged to have spent time with Phil and Phoebe in their final years. Please know I am thinking of you, Amy. You loved your dad well.

  16. Debbie Miller on December 20, 2022 at 4:45 pm

    I’m afraid my words cannot convey my thoughts and feelings about this most incredible man. I had the honor of being his nurse for almost 25 years. I started with Dr. Godwin when I was 24 years old. I always told him my parents raised me the first 24 years and he had the daunting task of leading me the next 25 years. He was an incredible physician. When we would have a young mother with her first born who was colicky and mom was almost at the end of her rope he would have me call her and tell her to come at the end of the schedule. He would sit down with the baby and a bottle. He would calmly feed the infant and talk to mom and reassure her that this was just a small bump in the road and things would quickly get better. When families were in crisis mode he would have them come at the end of the schedule and figure out the best course of action for them. He always had time for every patient. I learned so much from his man. I learned a lot more about medicine from him than I ever learned in school. Not only did I learn about medicine but I learned about life. He was my mentor.

    Dr. Godwin, I will always miss you. Thanks for the memories.

  17. Debbie Miller on December 21, 2022 at 6:25 am

    I had the honor and privilege to work side by side with Dr. Godwin as his nurse for 25 years until he retired. I saw first-hand the level of care he provided his patients, his true passion for the profession, and the many times he went above and beyond expectations.
    Phil was my mentor, boss and ultimately friend. He will be missed greatly.
    My sincerest condolences to the extended Godwin families and all his patients, colleagues and friends.
    —Debbie Miller

  18. Mary Whitaker Davidson on December 21, 2022 at 10:01 am

    My mother was a nurse at LMH and had great respect for Dr. Godwin. She chose him for our family doctor. He was a wonderful doctor. With all of his community involvement, he was also a very great man. I went to school with his children who were also great people. We were very fortunate to have this family in our community. My thoughts and prayers are with the family.

  19. Mr. Kim R. Wrench on December 22, 2022 at 11:09 am

    Dear Greg, Amy and Family,

    Please know that my thoughts are and will continue to be with you. Your Dad was a wonderful doctor! His community work will be something the people of Lawrence will always remember.

    Peace be with all.

    Mr. Kim R. Wrench
    Kansas City, Mo

  20. Bill and Sharon Reynolds on December 23, 2022 at 10:15 am

    We met Phil and Phoebe at FUMC when we joined the church and started a group called First Saturday. This was a social group that met at the member’s houses. They were delightful and we had many good times! We often saw Phil at KU Women’s Basketball games where we had season tickets. We will miss them and will always think of them when we drive by their house on 6th street.

  21. Lori Brunt on December 29, 2022 at 3:06 pm

    What a wonderful doctor he was! He brought me into the world, cared for my mother and family, and delivered my son. When the birth certificate mistakenly showed my son’s last name as Godwin, I brought it to his attention. He had the best laugh over that over it! I remember him saying “I’m very invested in your family, but I’ve put enough kids through college!” That was followed by lots of chuckling! My condolences to the family. He was the best.

  22. carole mitchell on January 3, 2023 at 8:11 am

    Dr. Godwin and Phoebe were dear friends of my husband Emmett and I. We greatly enjoyed their company and discussions in our Adult Sunday School. The Godwins’ came with us on one of our favorite vacations, a tour of Tunisia. He will be greatly missed, but I am sure is now happy back with his dear Phoebe.

  23. Mary C Moore on January 24, 2023 at 10:54 am

    I met Dr. Godwin one morning when I was scheduled to have surgery. I was crying, and Dr. Godwin told me it was not too late to cancel. I said I wanted the surgery, but I was scared because it was the first time I had any surgery. He told me that he could give me something to “take the edge off”. In a few seconds I was out, and was no longer afraid. All went as planed, and I will never forget how kind Dr. Godwin was to me that day. I am so sorry for your family’s loss, and RIP.

  24. Sherry Brooks on January 27, 2023 at 9:31 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I was fortunate enough to work for a short time for Dr. Godwin. I learned so much from him. He was such a wonderful doctor and truly cared about his patients. May you find comfort and peace as you start a new chapter in your lives.

  25. Rochelle Comfort on January 28, 2023 at 3:11 pm

    Back in 1973 my mom, Sherry, was a nurse for Dr Godwin. She grew up in western Kansas, but moved to Lawrence because my dad was in Pharmacy School at KU. My mom only worked for him a short time because after my dad graduated they moved back to western Kansas where my siblings and I were raised. My mom never forgot her time working in Dr Godwin’s office. I doubt Dr Godwin had any idea what a huge impact he had on a little mama in small town western Kansas. His pearls of wisdom have been passed on to us our entire lives. We have heard about Dr Godwin for as long as I can remember. Hundreds of times we have heard things like…Dr Godwin always used to say, Dr Godwin always believed, or Dr Godwin did it like this. Still to this day 50 years later she quotes Dr Godwin. We are so sorry for your loss. We hope you take comfort in knowing how far and wide his kindness and compassion stretched.

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