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
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.