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Walter's Story

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Walter Emery Klingensmith, MD, 88, passed away after a short illness on September 22, 2017. Born October 22, 1928 in Parkersburg, West Virginia and raised in Athens, West Virginia, he was the son of the late Ralph Ernest and Mary Emily Klingensmith. Walter was a graduate of Athens High School, Harvard College, and Harvard Medical School and trained in Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital.
He married Betty Ann Olsson in 1953. Accompanied by Betty, he served a tour of duty as a surgeon and Captain in the United States Army, stationed in Vicenza, Italy. In the early 1960's they settled in Beckley to serve the citizens and miners of the region. He first worked in the Miners Hospitals and later at Appalachian Regional Hospital, the Beckley VA Hospital, Beckley Hospital and Raleigh General Hospital, serving as the Chief of Surgery at Appalachian Regional and Raleigh General Hospitals and as an active member of the Raleigh County Medical Society. He was in practice for over 30 years as a board certified general, vascular and thoracic surgeon with his longtime partner, Dr. Harry F. Cooper. Together they trained a number of surgeons who remain in practice in southern West Virginia and the Appalachian region. He also served Concord University and its Foundation for many years as well as Woodrow Wilson High School athletics as a team physician. In addition, he was an avid musician, sports fan, gardener and dog lover.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Betty and five children: Sally (William) Hoff, Charles (Satoko), John (Erin Fraher), Daniel (Rebecca Klenk) and Mary (Doug Hanto); grandchildren: Will (Britt) Hoff, Susan Hoff, Maggie (Adam) Hopkins; Anna and Sara Maeve Klingensmith; Aaron Klingensmith; Tucker and Tenley Hall; great grandchildren: Billy, PJ and Ann Hoff; sister-in-law Barbara Klingensmith and several nieces and nephews.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his older brother David C. Klingensmith and younger sister Mary Alice Thurston.
A visitation will be held on Thursday, September 28, 2017 from 4-6p at Melton Mortuary in Beckley. A memorial service will be held on Friday, September 29, 2017 at 11am at the Beckley Presbyterian Church at 203 South Kanawha Street in Beckley.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Beckley Presbyterian Church.
Published on September 27, 2017
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