Berry Highland Memorial

5315 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN


Richard Alexander Obenour MD

Passed away on August 12, 2019

Beloved father, grandfather, and Knoxville physician Richard A. Obenour passed away Monday at UT Medical Center after a struggle with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. Richard was predeceased by his wife Mary Archer Obenour; his son Richard A. Obenour, Jr.; his sister Betty Obenour Kramer; and his niece Lisa McCarty Kennedy. He is survived by his daughters Patricia Obenour and Jane Obenour and his granddaughter Demi Marie Obenour; his brother William Obenour, MD, of Houston, TX, and William’s wife Ellen; loving sister-in-law Martha Archer McCarty and brother-in-law William McCarty and his beloved nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. Richard was professor emeritus at the University of Tennessee, Department of Medicine and was retired from practice. He attended Medical School at UT, Memphis, and was the first internal medicine resident at the UT Medical Center in Knoxville. He completed his pulmonary residency at Duke University and served as a physician in the Navy. He was the first physician to practice pulmonary medicine (nonsurgical) in the East Tennessee region. He developed the first pulmonary laboratories in three Knoxville hospitals and employed the first nurse clinician in Knoxville. During his career, Richard served as UT Division Chief of Pulmonary Medicine, Medical Director of Respiratory Therapy and of the Pulmonary Laboratory, and as UT Medical Center Chief of Staff. He was the founder of the Knoxville Pulmonary Group. He served as Medical Director of the Respiratory Therapy Technology Program, Adjunct Faculty, at Roane State Community College, Harriman TN. Richard was devoted to his family and had a wonderful sense of humor, a lifelong love of learning, and a strong work ethic. He cared very much about his children’s education and supported their endeavors. He enjoyed travelling, music, history, and movies. He loved to teach and trained many of Knoxville’s physicians. He was fond of his students/residents, was a kind and patient teacher, and was very devoted to the UT Medical Center and UT Department of Medicine. Richard received the Department of Medicine London Award, the Chancellor's Citation for Extraordinary Service to the University, and the Department of Medicine 40-year Meritorious Service Award. He received the American Academy of Family Physicians Recognition for participation in teaching and the Exceptional Service Award, Tennessee Black Lung Clinic Program. He was a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, served as president of the East Tennessee Heart Association and the Tennessee Society of Internal Medicine, and was a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Chest Physicians. During his career, he served on numerous committees at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, including the University Physician's Association Quality Improvement and Coordination Committees, the Utilization Review Committee, and the Ventilator Policy Development Committee. He was a member of the University of Tennessee Benefactors’ Society and generously supported many other causes in the community, including organizations to help the homeless, veterans, and to feed the hungry. The family wishes to thank loving caregivers Sana Omari of the Visiting Angels, Teri Trenchard and David Kosht, and the staff of the Visiting Angels. A private family and friends memorial will be held for Richard. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be sent to the Obenour Medicine Lectureship Fund, UT Department of Medicine, 1924 Alcoa Highway, U-114, Knoxville, TN 37920 (website: http://gsm.utmck.edu/support/giftfunds.cfm), or to the Volunteer Ministry Center, 511 North Broadway, Knoxville, TN 37917 (website https://www.vmcinc.org). 511 North Broadway,Knoxville, TN 37917, 865-524-3926.


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Richard Alexander Obenour MD

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Mary Darr-Haun

August 15, 2019

Dr Obenour was my Pulmonologist, father figure, colleague, and dear friend over almost 30 years. As a patient he treated me until he retired from KPG. During that time he lovingly treated me as a family member. He gave me his personal beeper number and treated me over the phone. He would allow me to just walk into his office and evaluate me to see if I was cleared to work on 9 East at University Medical Center. Countless times he personally met me in the emergency room when I was ill. He was instrumental in making the hospital nonsmoking so I wouldn’t have an Asthma attack as I entered the hospital. When he knew of no other treatment available in Knoxville he flew me to a specialized Respiratory Research Center in Denver Colorado via air ambulance with the assistance of Dr Lash. As a colleague he taught me to love pulmonary medicine. A love that gave me the ability to teach a TNA approved Critical Care course in Pulmonary Pharmacology after retiring at the age if 29. As a father figure he was always there to encourage and comfort me through hard times. He was so understanding and long suffering about me having chronic uncontrolled Asthma. After my retirement he encouraged my new found love of Watercolor Painting. He hung one of my paintings in his office at KPG for several years. When I married my late husband he gave me a beautiful crystal vase from Finland that I cherish to this day. Over the past few years correspondence had dwindled as he aged, but I would continue to write him. As a term of endearment I always referred to him as “My Dearest Dr Obenour” to others and he will always be that as long as I live.

Sissy Ensor

August 14, 2019

Hi Jane & Patti -- So sorry to hear about Dr. Obenour. Such a special man and truly a great teacher for countless residents and medical students. The one comfort is that he is now with his Mary.
If you need anything, please let me know. Love you both.