INDIANAPOLIS — Donald Warren Tharp, M.D., 87, of Indianapolis passed away on Monday, Oct. 28, 2013, at Community Hospital North in Indianapolis.
He was born on Sept. 13, 1926, a 3.7 pound twin to Frederick Estle and Lelia Mae (Jett) Tharp in Johnson County, Ind., near the Brown County line -- or “on the Brown edge of Johnson County,” as he loved to say. His paternal ancestor, Morgan Pitcher, built a log cabin there in 1839 and was one of the area’s first settlers.
Dr. Tharp graduated from Nineveh High School, where the majority of the classroom scenes were filmed for the movie “Hoosiers.” He earned his B.A. from Franklin College in 1946 aided by an Ella Pitcher Berry Scholarship and graduated from Indiana University School of Medicine in 1950. There, he met nursing student Joanne Carolyn Hunt, the love of his life to whom he was married for nearly 64 years. They married on Nov. 25, 1949.
Serving with his beloved older brother Harold, a surgery resident, he completed his internship at Methodist Hospital in 1951. He enlisted in the United States Public Health Service from 1951-1961 caring for Coast Guardsmen and Merchant Marines in Chicago, Detroit, Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and New Orleans. While in North Carolina, he was the only physician for 3 1/2 years on the isolated Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands. In New Orleans, he completed his residency training in ophthalmology (eye surgery) and otorhinolaryngology (ear, nose and throat surgery) and was among the last of physicians trained in both disciplines in the United States. He received his board certification in Ophthalmology on Nov. 1, 1962.
Dr. Tharp practiced in Muncie, Ind., from 1961-1977 before moving his practice to Winchester, Ind., where he oversaw operations of his Randolph County farms. He retired from medicine in 1993. He enjoyed wilderness backpacking and hiked extensively throughout his life with family and friends, traveling to Yosemite and the Sierras, the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, and points along the Appalachian Trail. Most of all, he loved spending time with his family.
He was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Winchester and attended St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. He was a member of the Muncie and Winchester Rotary Clubs for 47 years and a board member of Earlham College’s Yokefellow Institute. He was instrumental in the capital campaign to fund the present Randolph County YMCA facility. Additional memberships included the Delaware and Randolph County Medical Societies, Indiana State Medical Association, American Medical Association, Indiana Academy of Ophthalmology and American Academy of Ophthalmology.
In addition to his loving wife, Joanne, he is survived by his daughter, Carol Tharp-Perrin (Larry Gindhart) of Indianapolis; son-in-law, Wayne Bloomquist of Indianapolis; sons, David H. Tharp, M.D. (Beth) of Cicero, and Andrew W. Tharp, M.D. (Patricia, M.D.) of Evansville; twin brother, David Wayne Tharp (Martha) of Southport; sister, Doris Tharp Hollis of Fremont, Ohio; sisters-in-law, Lois Tharp of Frankfort, and Florine Tharp of Indianapolis; 17 grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and a wealth of cousins, nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; an infant sister, Virginia; his daughter, Katherine Jo Bloomquist;, and brothers Harold R. Tharp, M.D., Howard M. Tharp, and John D. Tharp, M.D.
The family wishes to thank Community Home Health Hospice and Dr. Tharp’s caregivers. They extend special appreciation to Keith L. Hayes for his many, many months of extraordinary care and friendship.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, at Randall and Roberts Fishers Mortuary, 12010 Allisonville Road, Fishers. Memorial services will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Presbyterian Church in Winchester, 201 E. Franklin St., with visitation beginning at noon prior to the service. Pastor Heather Foley of Winchester First United Methodist Church will officiate. Burial will be in Fountain Park Cemetery in Winchester.
Memorial contributions may be sent to Winchester First United Methodist Church, 313 S. Meridian St., Winchester, IN 47394; Randolph County YMCA, 1521 E. Washington St., Winchester, IN 47394; Westminster Village North Foundation, Inc., 11050 Presbyterian Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46236.
Post online condolences at www.randallroberts.com or www.theheraldbulletin.com.