Robert Peter Turk, M.D., Colonel, USAF (Ret.), professor emeritus at the Boonshoft School of Medicine, passed away on Thursday, January 16, 2014, at Hospice of Dayton. He was 82.
Dr. Turk will be remembered as a committed physician, a scholar, and an outstanding educator. He touched the lives of many people during his service to the Dayton medical community and the nation.
Born in Hopelawn, New Jersey, Dr. Turk served his country during the Korean War from 1950 to 1954.
Dr. Turk graduated in premedicine studies at the University of Alabama in 1956, and earned his medical doctorate at the Medical College of Alabama in 1960. He rejoined the U.S. Air Force in 1959, and completed his Flight Surgeon's training at the School of Aerospace Medicine, Brooks Air Force Base, Texas. In 1961, he performed a rotating internship at Tripler General Army Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii, and then completed his training in general surgery at Fitzsimmons Army General Hospital in 1968.
Dr. Turk served a total of 24 years in the Air Force. Before retiring, he served as chief of surgery/chairman of the departments of surgery at hospitals in Vietnam, the Philippines, Spain, France, and the United States. Following his service, he came to Dayton in 1975.
Dr. Turk served as chair of the Department of Surgery at Wright-Patterson Medical Center (WPMC) and founded the WPMC General Surgery Residency Program (December 1975 to September 1979). He was instrumental in the integration of the WPMC program with the surgical training program at Wright State University School of Medicine in 1979.
Dr. Turk was a member of the Department of Medical Education at St. Elizabeth Medical Center (SEMC), from 1979 to 2000, and after closure of SEMC, he continued his service to medical education in the Department of Surgery at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. During these decades, he touched the lives of hundreds of medical students, family medicine residents, and general surgery residents. His sage advice was commonly referred to as “Turk’s Aphorisms,” and served as a guiding light for many learners.
For his medical career and contributions, Dr. Turk received many honors, including Teaching Excellence Awards (numerous, from learners), Clinical Surgery Teacher of the Year Awards (the Alan B. Huffer Memorial Award, multiple times), Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award (Department of Emergency Medicine, 1993), and the Outstanding Clinician of the Year Award (Wright State University Academy of Medicine, 1988). He was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha National Medical Honor Society, Phi Beta Kappa (University of Alabama, 1956), and Alpha Epsilon Delta (National Premedical Honor Society, 1956).
Dr. Turk was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and held professional memberships in the American Medical Association, American Association for the History of Medicine, Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S., Society of Medical Consultants to the Armed Forces, Society of Air Force Clinical Surgeons (Life Member), Ohio State Medical Association, Montgomery County Medical Society, and the Academy of Medicine (Life Member and Trustee).
He was awarded the following during his military service: The Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Award, Air Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Air Force Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Medal, and the Vietnam Service Medal.
Dr. Turk will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, and services will be private.