Dr. Stephen Thomas Gupton Jr.

January 5, 1931November 9, 2012
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Dr. Stephen Thomas Gupton, Jr. died Friday, November 9, 2012 after a lengthy illness. Born in Rocky Mount, NC on January 5, 1931, “Tommy” was the eldest son of Margaret Bradley Parrish Gupton and Stephen Thomas Gupton (also known as “Jane and Steve”). He went to Rocky Mount High School, where he played football. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1953 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and then attended the UNC School of Medicine, graduating in 1957 as Vice President of his class, and recently serving as President. While in medical school, Dr. Gupton met the love of his life, Helen Coffer; she was working as a nurse at the NC Memorial Hospital. They married June 24, 1956 at Center Methodist Church in Sanford, NC.

Dr. Gupton did his medical internship at the University of Iowa from 1957 to 1958, and was a Lieutenant Commander for the US Public Health Service in Lexington, Kentucky from 1959 to 1961. He returned to Chapel Hill in 1961 to complete his medical residency at the NC Memorial Hospital. In 1963, Helen and Tommy moved to Morganton, NC where he established the neurology clinic at Broughton Hospital, the second oldest state psychiatric hospital in NC. In 1964, they made Raleigh their permanent home. For two years, Dr. Gupton was one of two neurologists, himself and Dr. George Paulson, at Dorothea Dix Hospital, the first state psychiatric hospital in NC. Dr. Gupton was the first neurologist caring for patients in Raleigh and all of Eastern NC; he was a pioneer in establishing scholarly neurology in this region. In 1966, his friend and mentor, Dr. LeRoy Allen, encouraged him to start the first private neurology practice in Raleigh, and Wake Neurology Associates was born. Dr. Gupton’s practice cared for neurology patients from all over the state. He was also one of the first physicians to begin the neurology clinic at Wake Medical Center, continuing to see patients there from 1966 until his retirement in 2000. Asked once why he became a doctor, he responded, “I wanted to help people.” And help people he did—Dr. Gupton cared for tens of thousands of patients during his nearly 40-year career. When he retired, Wake Medical Center honored Dr. Gupton for his many years of service. In 2005, he was nominated for the Raleigh Hall of Fame.

Throughout his life, “Tommy” cherished spending time with family and friends, and he was especially fond of extended family reunions with Brunswick Stew on the menu. He enjoyed being at the beach with his children and grandchildren, and going fishin’ with his buddies, Dr. LeRoy Allen, Al Lathan and Bill Christian. Upon retirement, he and his wife traveled up and down the East Coast to visit their children and grandchildren. He loved to cook, especially during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays—Lemon Thyme Chicken was one of his specialties.

He was a member of many organizations and clubs, including: the NC Medical Society, Wake County Medical Society, The Royster Club Medical Society, Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, American Academy of Neurology (50-year member), UNC General Alumni Association, US Public Health Service (Lt. Commander), Military Officers Association of America, as well as the Carolina Country Club, Coral Bay Club, and White Memorial Presbyterian Church.

Dr. Gupton was predeceased by his parents, Margaret Bradley Parrish Gupton and Stephen Thomas Gupton, and his brother William Richard Gupton.

He is survived by his wife of over 56 years, Helen Patricia Coffer Gupton; his six children: Deborah Jane Gupton Van Zijl and husband Frederick Glenn Van Zijl of New York, NY, Patricia Diane Gupton Becton and husband Paul Wesley Becton of Raleigh, NC, Stephen Thomas Gupton, III and wife Noelle Uhl Gupton of Berwyn, PA, Mary Catherine Gupton Jurgensen and husband James Scott Jurgensen of Raleigh, NC, John Bradley Gupton and wife Rebecca Lee Rowley Gupton of Wake Forest, NC, and Richard Dalton Gupton and wife Natasha Lea Lancaster Gupton of Ashburn, VA; as well as his 16 grandchildren: Marguerite Ruth Van Zijl, Alexander Glenn Van Zijl, Paul Wesley Becton Jr., John Thomas Becton, Catherine Marie Becton, Anna Elise Gupton, Stephen Thomas Gupton, IV, Virginia Stuart Jurgensen, James Augustus Jurgensen, Anderson Scott Jurgensen, Hanna Christian Jurgensen, John Bradley Gupton, Jr., Sarah Ann Gupton, Jacob Edward Gupton, Madison Annette Gupton, and Mackenzie Lea Gupton. He is also survived by his brothers Walter Elijah Gupton and wife Gail Pittman Gupton, and Frank Robert Gupton and wife Patricia Batchelor Gupton, all of Rocky Mount, NC. Numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and in-laws also survive Dr. Gupton.

Visitation with the Gupton family will be on Wednesday, November 14, 2012 from 6–8pm at Brown-Wynne Funeral Home, 300 Saint Mary's Street, Raleigh.

The funeral service will be held on Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 11am at White Memorial Presbyterian Church, 1704 Oberlin Road, Raleigh. Graveside services will follow at Historic Oakwood Cemetery, 701 Oakwood Avenue, Raleigh.

Our sincere thanks to Dr. Gupton’s caregivers in 2012, Veronica Kienyi, Mary Kirite and Lucy Kuria.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in honor of Dr. Stephen Thomas Gupton, Jr. to either the American Heart Association (P.O. Box 5216, Glen Allen VA 23058-5216), or the Alexander Family YMCA’s “We Build People” campaign (1603 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27605).

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  • Visitation Wednesday, November 14, 2012
  • Funeral Service Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dr. Stephen Thomas Gupton Jr.

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Keith Askew

November 20, 2012

I was so sorry to hear about Dr. Gupton passing. I am a nephew of Dr. Allen and I have found memories of many of our fishing adventures aboard the Sea Hag. I am so thankful that I had an opportunity to visit with Tom at Uncle Roy's funeral. All of the great men that I had the opportunity to fish with allowed me to be a better man and father and I will always be very grateful.

Stephen T Gupton III

November 16, 2012

While I'm deeply saddened about the passing of my Dad, I'm also extremely proud of his life and the way he lived it. I spoke at his funeral service and following is an excerpt of what I said:

How do you measure the worth of a life? Is it in years? My Dad died when he was 81, but scientists say the universe is billions of years old, so 81 is not very much. Do you measure a life by how much money you make? My Dad was a doctor, so he did pretty well for himself. But as my grandmother Jane used to say, “You won't see a U-haul behind a hearse.” So money isn't it. What is it then, what is the measure of a life? Well, look around you… It's about family -- Tom Gupton married the love of his life, Helen, my mom, and they had six children together. And those children went out in the world, got married and had 16 grandchildren. It's about friendship. My Dad cherished spending time with friends -- whether it was going fishin' at the beach with his buddies, having a cup of soup at the club, or even just going to the grocery store and saying “Hi” to the neighbors. And for nearly 40 years, it was about his patients. Dr. Gupton cared for thousands of patients from all over the state. But to him, they weren't just patients, they were like family. So what can we learn from him? I think it's simple: Live your life with purpose -- Do the right thing. Make the right choices. Make time for family and friends. Try talking instead of texting. Hold open the door for a stranger. Help your neighbors. Help make this world a better place. My Dad did.

Richard Gupton

November 16, 2012

I love you Dad! May you now rest in peace. Thank you to my siblings that helped care for him these past 8 months, especially Diane. The service today was a wonderful tribute to a great man. It was an honor to be his son. You will be missed.

Thank you to all his family and friends able to attend For those unable to attend the service here are comments in tribute to a loving father -

Tribute to Our Father

We gather here today to pay tribute and honor a truly remarkable man – our father. He was a loving husband and father who had a big heart. He was an accomplished physician that blazed the trail for others in the Raleigh medical community in the field of neurology, which was a new specialty at the time he was coming out of medical school. Yet with all of his success and accomplishments, he always remained a humble man that spoke few words but left behind a lasting legacy in the profession he loved and with a loving and devoted family – his wife and our mother, 6 children (3 sons and 3 daughters) and (16 grandchildren).

When we were young, Dad would leave home for work before the sunrise and often never return before the sunset. During the middle of the night, when the phone rang – he was always there to answer it. It was usually an emergency call from the hospital. One of his patients had been hurt. Even though he was exhausted from a long work day, he would rise from bed and travel to the hospital to care for his patients. That is just who he was. Never thinking of himself, but of his patients he loved to care for and help heal their ailments. All of this occurring while his children slept. His work and success helped provide many opportunities for us. It is something we will always be grateful to him as we would not be who we are today without his guiding hand.

Growing up we never appreciated or understood the endless hours he spent at work seeing countless patients at the hospital or office. It was only years later when we had families of our own and began our careers did we come to appreciate the dedication and sacrifice he made for his family. He provided his children with every opportunity to succeed in life, yet he never pushed us to follow him into the field of medicine. He realized each of us needed to find our own path, our own calling. The most important thing was to choose a career and spouse you loved and cared for

One of his other passions was the beach. It was a place of tranquility and solitude for him. He could spend hours gazing at the ocean and soaking up all of the sounds and the sun. At the beach life is different, time does not move from hour to hour but mood to moment. At the beach, we live by the current, plan by the tides and follow the sun. During the summer months, we would go down to the beach nearly every weekend and spend our summer vacation there. Dad loved to go fishing with us and spending the days on the ocean enjoying all life had to offer. It was a place of solitude for him.

Our dad was a fighter. In 1971 we were traveling back from the beach he loved. That was when he had his first major heart attack. He was sent to Rex and then Duke Hospital where they were able to save him. It was when he was in the prime of his life. For a brief moment in time his heart had stopped. It was then he saw a glimpse of heaven, but God knew he had more to offer this Earth, more he needed to do for his family and patients. Dad always viewed the days and years he had after that time as a blessing. On Friday, November 9, he passed away at that same Duke Hospital nearly 40 years later knowing he was able to see his children grow up, walk his daughters down the aisle in marriage and sons become men and marry to start families of their own.

We leave you with these parting thoughts from a poem posted on the Internet written by a child to his father that passed away in 2008 -

Now God has called upon you
It's time to get your wings
To leave this world behind you,
And enjoy all of heavens beautiful things,
So wait for me in heaven Dad,
Don't let me come alone,
The day the angels come for me,
Please be there to bring me home.

Pinkie Harris

November 16, 2012

To the Gupton Family I pray that through your time of bereavement God strengthen you at this time. Pinkie, Raleigh Dilysis Clinic

Cindy Bowman

November 15, 2012

I will truly miss Dr. Gupton. He always came into the Radiology department with a smile. He was one of a kind. I enjoyed working with him and learning from him. My deepest sympathy to the entire Gupton family

Rose M. Graham

November 15, 2012

My thoughts and prayers are with the Gupton family. May God grant you comfort and peace. And may your precious memories of him soothe the pain of your loss and uplift your spirits. I did not know Dr. Gupton, but I have heard his daughter, Cathy, speak so lovingly of him.

November 14, 2012

Deeply sorry to hear of the passing of my friend, Tommy.What a distinguished career he had as a Physician and Father. He will be missed by many. ......... Lt. Col. Robert E. (Bobby) Pennigton, USAF, Retired. Class of 49 and former teammate RMHS.

November 14, 2012

Diane, I am truly sorry for your loss. I will keep you & your family in my thoughts & prayers during this difficult time. May God give you peace.

Melody Salmon Adams

Cathy Jurgensen

November 14, 2012

I want to tell everyone how much I love my daddy and how much I miss him...No words to describe...but I also would like to thank my sister Diane for all that she has done...Thank you Diane..

American Heart Association

November 14, 2012

May your memories of the wonderful times you shared with your loved one comfort you and your family, today and always.