Medical 05

Thomas "Tommy" Alexander Whitehead, MD

June 29, 1949 ~ January 15, 2024 (age 74) 74 Years Old

Thomas "Tommy" Alexander Whitehead, MD Obituary

Dr. Thomas Alexander Whitehead passed away peacefully at home in Rancho Mirage, California on January 15, 2024.  Dr.  Whitehead was born on June 29, 1949 to John Daniel Sr. “Dan” and Montez Alexander Whitehead.  Raised in West Springs, SC, his father owned Whitehead General Merchandise, and his mother worked in the auditor’s office in Spartanburg.  Tommy attended West Springs Grammar School; one afternoon during the first week of first grade, he came home crying.  His mother asked, “why are you crying?”, and Tommy responded, “I don’t have any homework!”  Because of his extreme boredom, he was put in the second grade. 

His love for education continued as he grew, graduating from Union High School in 1966 at the age of 16.   He then began Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC and graduated magna cum laude in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science in biology and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa National Academic Honor Society.  He then attended the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC and graduated in 1974 with a Doctor of Medicine.  Upon graduation, he completed his residency in Therapeutic Radiology at Emory University in Atlanta, GA in 1978, training at Emory University Hospital and Grady Memorial Hospital.   Dr. Whitehead was licensed to practice medicine and surgery in the state of Georgia in 1976.  He was a proud and active member of The American Society of Clinical Oncology, The American College of Radiology, The American Society of Therapeutic Radiologists, The American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, and The Georgia Radiological Society.  He served in private practice in several offices in the Atlanta metropolitan area.  Beloved by his patients as well as his co-workers, he brought professionalism, compassion, and light-heartedness to his work.  From exclaiming “Thank God It’s Monday!” instead of the routine cheer for the weekend to stating that a patient must be “on his way to Chicago” whenever one would lose the battle to cancer, Dr. Whitehead found the humor in most situations.  Some of his favorite pastimes were skiing in Aspen, CO, hosting dinner parties, and enjoying relaxing weekends at his vacation home in Cashiers, NC. A world traveler, Dr. Whitehead visited countless countries, however trips to The Galapagos Islands and to the African continent were among his favorites.  During the last dozen years of his life, he split his time between homes in Palm Springs, CA and Whidbey Island, WA. 

Dr. Whitehead was first diagnosed with esophageal cancer in January 2021; he experienced remission and recurrence, handling each day with the same grace with which he lived his life.  The synergy with his treating oncologist, Dr. Law, provided thankful intervals of feeling normal and happy, even up to the end.  During his last week on this earth, he said he was “ready to go” and “excited” about his own “trip to Chicago”.  He is survived by his brother John Daniel “Danny” Whitehead, Jr. and his sister-in-law Ginger; his niece Dr. Shelley Alexandra Whitehead, her husband Dan, and their twins Monroe and Gage Thomas; his nephew, Seth Daniel Whitehead, his wife Nina, and their children Samuel and Ella, all of West Springs, SC; his best friends, Lynda Hutchinson of Aiken, SC and Pam Barrow of Atlanta, GA.  Half of Tommy’s ashes will be scattered in Puget Sound and the other half will be interred in the family plot in West Springs, SC after a private family burial. 

Devastated by the loss of this exuberant life, his family hopes to honor his legacy by living out one of his most memorable sayings: “there is always room for improvement”.  However, we don’t think he could have improved in any area of his life—he was a wonder. 

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