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Obituary: Stanley E. Thawley, professor emeritus of otolaryngology, 75

Head and neck surgeon known for dedication to patient care

February 20, 2019

Stanley E. Thawley, MD, a professor emeritus of otolaryngology-head & neck surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, died Jan. 22, 2019, while at work in St. Louis. He was 75.

Thawley came to Washington University School of Medicine in 1971 for his residency in the ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialty at then-Barnes Hospital, now Barnes-Jewish Hospital. He joined the faculty of the Department of Otolaryngology in 1975, where he remained for his entire career.

“Dr. Thawley cared for thousands of patients throughout his 44 years at Washington University,” said Craig A. Buchman, MD, the Lindburg Professor and head of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. “He taught many residents, published many papers and provided excellent specialty care for his patients, who included veterans and extended beyond St. Louis to the rural communities of Madison and St. Genevieve Counties. Dr. Thawley was beloved by his patients and will be greatly missed.”

A 2017 BJC Today story marking Thawley’s retirement from full-time work noted his “gentlemanly manner, his love of children and his willingness to drive from St. Louis for decades to serve up to five generations of patients in rural Missouri.”

Thawley began his career specializing in head and neck surgery, presenting numerous head and neck oncology courses. He served as the editor of Volumes I and II of the textbook “Comprehensive Management of Head and Neck Tumors.” In the late 1980s, Thawley expanded his research and practice to include endoscopic sinus surgery and management of sleep apnea. He became director of the department’s sinus allergy and adult divisions.

Thawley earned his medical degree from the University of Texas, Galveston, in 1967. He served two years in the U.S. Air Force in Lubbock, Texas, before coming to St. Louis to continue his medical training.

Among his many contributions to the specialty, Thawley served as chief of otolaryngology at the John Cochran Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Louis, where he continued working part time after his retirement. He also served as director of a residency training and fellowship committee, and chairman of VA Human Research Studies. He also was the secretary/treasurer of the ENT Club of St. Louis from 1994 to 2016, an American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy council member, and editor of the journal The Laryngoscope.

He is survived by his wife, Betty; sons David and Mark Thawley; nephew John Thawley III; and three grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to Webster Hills United Methodist Church, 698 W. Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, Mo. 63119.