Beloved father, husband, grandfather, physician and community leader, Dr. Robert E. Ringrose died November 9, 2021 at age 82 in Oklahoma City. His life exemplified the Oklahoma spirit.
Robert was born February 11, 1939 to Fern (Wilson) and Dr. Ransom Francis Ringrose in Guthrie, Okla. At an early age, he had a vision for his life, leadership and service. In sixth grade, Robert decided he wanted to go to medical school so he could return to Guthrie to practice medicine with his father. He graduated from Guthrie High School in 1956, achieving Eagle Scout and DeMolay Master Councilor honors among others.
At the University of Oklahoma, he made lifelong friends in Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity. He earned undergraduate and medical degrees, in 1960 and 1963, joining the Naval Reserves in 1961 during medical school. Robert served a one-year internship at Oakland Naval Hospital in 1963-64 and two years at Subic Bay Naval Hospital in the Philippines from 1964-66.
Music was an important part of Robert’s life. He played piano, clarinet, cornet and French horn, was drum major in high school, and solo French horn in 1956 for the Oklahoma All State Band and Orchestra. He was solo horn his junior year at the University of Oklahoma and played with the Pride of Oklahoma marching band.
A focus on water sports brought life-long skills and romance. Robert started teaching swimming in junior high school eventually earning the Water Safety Instructor certification, and over the years taught swimming, water skiing and scuba diving. After meeting Patricia Ann “Pat” Lytle at Lake Murray Aquatic School in 1958 and dating long-distance, they married June 20, 1963 in Ft. Worth, Texas. They were married for 43 wonderful years.
Pat and Robert returned to Oklahoma City in 1966, after completing the Navy internship and commission in the Philippines, with the addition of Carol to their family. Robert completed his internal medicine residency and fellowship in gastroenterology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, and subsequently was named an associate professor of internal medicine and acting head of the gastroenterology section of University Hospital (1969-70). Sharon was born in 1967 and David in 1970. Robert was certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in gastroenterology.
The family moved to Guthrie in 1970, following through on Robert’s desire to serve his hometown and practice medicine with his father, Dr. R.F. Ringrose. The elder Ringrose opened his Guthrie surgery and family medicine practice in 1928. “Dr. Robert,” as he was known to distinguish from his father, Dr. R.F., enjoyed more than two decades practicing medicine with his father until Dr. R.F. retired at age 90. In a 2008 newspaper article, Robert said the most rewarding aspect of his practice was serving the citizens of Guthrie. “I like making people more comfortable so they can live productive lives.”
After moving to Guthrie, Robert continued teaching gastroenterology at the University of Oklahoma for a decade followed by teaching medical students through the preceptorship program, supervising several students a year for more than 20 years. In addition to his medical practice, Dr. Robert served as medical examiner for Logan County for 25 years, with one of his better-known cases involving Karen Silkwood. He served in many roles for the American College of Gastroenterology including chairman, governor for several states and trustee (1985-88). He was president of the Arkansas/Oklahoma Regional Endoscopy Society (1983-85).
In Guthrie, Robert participated in numerous organizations including serving as Guthrie Chamber of Commerce president (1973) and Guthrie mayor (1975-76). He and Pat were active in historic preservation efforts, serving on the board of the Harrison House Bed & Breakfast Inn, which became the Pollard Inn.
Robert’s hobbies included photography, scuba diving, birding, hunting, building furniture for his family, repairing anything that was broken and building electronics including computers, radios, a television and installing a built-in home vacuum system. Pat and Robert enjoyed traveling with their children, Carol, Sharon and David, often with The Friendship Force. The pair also enjoyed dancing, tennis, swimming, water skiing, scuba diving, boating and attending sporting events, especially University of Oklahoma football games.
After the children left home, Pat joined Robert working at the Ringrose Clinic as administrator. After Pat’s death in 2006, Robert closed the Ringrose Clinic at the end of 2009 and worked as a locum tenens physician for several years. Robert married Carol Elaine Brown Overton, who he had known since grade school, on August 23, 2014. He was fortunate to have Carol’s companionship, especially through the coronavirus pandemic.
For his 82nd birthday, The Byron Berline Band held a concert in Robert’s honor. Band members Richard Sharp, Greg Burgess, Billy Perry, Thomas Trapp, Henry Byron Burgess and Byron Berline made it a special evening for friends and family to celebrate Robert’s life. His sister, Bette Berline, organized the concert.
Robert is survived by his wife, Carol; children, Carol Ringrose Alexander and her husband, Kerry of Oklahoma City, Sharon Ringrose and her husband, Leonard Thomas of Norman, and David Ringrose and his wife, Laura Chamberlin Ringrose of Dallas; his sister Bette Berline and her daughter Becca Berline of Guthrie; his great aunt Dr. Elizabeth Reed Ringrose of Berkeley, Ca., and Patricia’s siblings Susan Grimes and her husband George, Linda Ramsey and her husband Thomas and William Francis Lytle III and his wife Debbie. His grandchildren are Calvin Glen, Nicholas Walter, Jackson Craig and Luke Ransom Alexander, Alexandria Rose and Elijah William Francis Thomas and Lily Ann Ringrose. Robert was predeceased by his parents, his wife, Patricia, brothers-in-law Byron Berline, Dr. Reid Clayton and Roy Staller and brother, Don.
The family would like to thank the caregivers at Heritage Point of Oklahoma City, which specializes in Alzheimer’s and memory care, Ashley Duke at Traditions Health hospice services, Sherry Pemberton and Brandi Banks who helped us give him “every single good day we could” in his final months.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Patricia and Robert Ringrose Endowment Fund at the Communities Foundation of Oklahoma (cfok.org, 801 NW 63rd St., Suite 200, Oklahoma City, OK 73116) to benefit The Pollard Theatre or to a charity of one’s choice. A celebration of his life will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 13 at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 222 NW 15th Street, in the sanctuary. The virtual service can be viewed at http://stlukesokc.org/funeral.
Photo credit: David Ringrose