Thomas Weatherall, pioneering Louisiana oncologist, dies at 85 _lowres

Dr. Thomas J. Weatherall Jr.

Dr. Thomas J. Weatherall Jr., the first radiation oncologist to practice in Slidell, died Monday after a career that spanned six decades. He was 85.

Weatherall retired in 2010 as the medical director of the Slidell Radiation Center, which he opened in 1988, but he continued to see patients until two days before his death.

Slidell Memorial Hospital officials credited him with developing many of the concepts still at work in its Regional Cancer Center, including coordination of care and advances in treatment options.

“Our community has lost a great doctor,” said SMH Chief Executive Officer Bill Davis. “Dr. Weatherall forever changed Slidell Memorial and the lives of countless patients for the better. He will be deeply missed.”

Medical oncologist and SMHRCC Medical Director Matthew McElveen, who worked with Weatherall, praised his gentle demeanor and compassion for his patients, as well as his wealth of knowledge and experience.

“That level of experience with an intellect to match is rarely seen and was an enormous benefit to his patients and the medical professionals he worked with,” McElveen said.

Weatherall was born in New York City but moved to Kosciusko, Mississippi, at the age of 4. He graduated from Kosciusko High School in 1947 and received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama in 1949. He earned his medical degree from Vanderbilt University in 1953.

He enlisted in the Army after graduation, interning at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas and serving in the Army Medical Corps in Alaska.

He completed a residency in radiology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, where he was chief resident from 1959 to 1960, and then moved to Houma, where he practiced radiology and formed the Houma Medical and Surgical Clinic in 1967.

He retrained in the field of radiation oncology in 1971 in San Francisco and London, bringing new protocols for cancer treatment to Louisiana.

He opened the Intercommunity Cancer Center, the first cancer center in Houma, in 1974 and served as chief of staff at Terrebonne General Hospital in 1975. He also opened the Intercommunity Cancer Center of New Orleans at Baptist Hospital, where he also served as medical director.

Weatherall also held various teaching positions at Tulane University, Charity Hospital and the New Orleans Veterans Affairs Hospital.

He was named a fellow of the American College of Radiology in 1996 and of the American College of Radiation Oncology in 2000. The National Republican Committee Physician Advisory Board named him physician of the year in 2003.

Weatherall served as president of the Louisiana Society of Radiation Oncology, the New Orleans Society of Radiation Oncology and the Council of Affiliated Regional Radiation Societies. He was a board member of the American College of Radiology and the American College of Radiation Oncology.

He was a pilot and golfer as well as an avid boater, racing in the Portsmouth class. He was a member of the Southern Yacht Club and an active volunteer with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation since 1989, serving as a member of its board.

Survivors include his wife, Jennifer Claire Vincent Weatherall; a son, Thomas Edward Weatherall; two daughters, Wendy Weatherall Kerrigan and Rebecca Weatherall Cope; and seven grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday on the lawn of the Southern Yacht Club, followed by a reception at the club. Visitation will begin at 1 p.m.