Terrell Covington, Jr., born in Pensacola, Florida, on August 25, 1918,
died at home on April 13, 2014. He was the middle son of Terrell, Sr.
and Mabel (Green) Covington. Terrell was preceded in death by two brothers,
John and Robert, his first wife, Adriana S., and one daughter, Adriana.
He is survived by spouse, Nancy F. of the home, six children, Patricia
Pesci, Terrell S., Christopher, Juliana Moseley, Shelley Cooper and Kevin.
He is survived by thirteen grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren, many
nieces and nephews.
In 1926, Pensacola suffered a devastating hurricane and the real estate
market bottomed. During the height of the Depression, in 1929 the family
moved to Muskogee, Oklahoma where Terrell, Sr. became a full-time banker.
Terrell, Jr. attended West Junior High School and Central High School
in Muskogee. He was President of his senior class, captain of the basketball
team and graduated Valedictorian. Terrell received a four-year scholastic
scholarship to Washington University in St. Louis by an anonymous donor
from Ponca City.
While in college, he became interested in the biological sciences and worked
in the physiology lab of Francis O. Schmitt (later President of MIT).
He was a member and house manager at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. Terrell
graduated from Washington University Medical School (St. Louis) in December
1943. Because of WWII, internships were curtailed. He had to find training
elsewhere. Paterson, New Jersey had an opening where Terrell spent the
next 18 months in a rotating internship as a Second Lieutenant in the
US Army Corps. There he met Adriana Sisco and was married. In 1946 after
completing 27 months of internship, Terrell was fully vested in the US
Army Corps as a First Lieutenant and transferred to San Antonio for Officer's
Training. Shortly thereafter 596 of 600 officers were shipped overseas.
Terrell, one of the four left, was sent Swannanoa, North Carolina, to
serve as a ward physician of a 1200 bed temporary hospital overseen by
the Jefferson Medical College treating the sick and injured soldiers from
the Pacific theatre. After 9 months he was transferred to Fort Belvoir
in Virginia, outside Washington DC and became Chief of Medicine and headed
the dispensary. There he worked with Jonas Salk who had just developed
a new flu vaccine. Terrell was asked to administer the vaccine to 1500
engineers leaving for France the next day. He and Dr. Salk worked nonstop
from 3:00 pm to 5:00 am the next morning. After this nine-month stint,
the war was over and physicians from the theatre had first choice of residencies.
Many of the desirable programs were full. Terrell was told of a new school
in Texas. There he met the famous Dr. Tinsley Harrison at Parkland Hospital
and was accepted into one of the first two-year residencies in Internal
Medicine at the McKinney Hospital Southwestern Medical School. Dr. Harrison
is author of
Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine
, still being used in medical schools today.
In 1950, Terrell moved to Tulsa and put up a sign at the Court Arcade Building
across the street from the Medical Arts Building in downtown. Terrell
dedicated his life to community development and projects in Tulsa as it
related to health care needs. He practiced at St. John Hospital for almost
50 years, retiring at the age of 80. During those years Dr. Covington
performed insurance exams for Met Life for $3.00 each; company physicals
for Sears & Roebuck; read cardiograms for Vinita State Hospital and
Hugh Perry Clinic; initiated school physicals by competent physicians;
ran a rheumatic heart clinic for children; helped establish the Tulsa
chapter of the American Heart Association and served as president; was
elected to the staff of St. John Hospital and became Chief of Staff in
1971 overseeing the building of the new hospital. He met and married Nancy
Findley that year. Dr. Covington served as vice-president of Tulsa County
Medical Society; began serving on the Tulsa County Board of Public Health
in 1956 and from that position helped create Moton Health Care Clinic
(currently referred to as the Morton Health Care Clinic), and served as
chairman of their board. He served as board member of the Tulsa Educational
Foundation that created a movement addressing the needs of the learning
impaired in Tulsa Public Schools; was on the teaching staff at St. John
Hospital for over 40 years. In retirement he accepted a position teaching
History-Taking to third-year O.U. medical students. Dr. Covington was
a private physician specializing in Internal Medicine-Diagnosis. He had
650 active patients when he retired.
Terrell's contributions to the church include: early member of John
Knox Presbyterian Church; joined Southminster Presbyterian after his marriage
to Nancy; taught Church school for nearly 40 years, touching the lives
of many at both churches. He was an Elder and served actively at each
church. After retirement he joined Nancy in ministry at Dardanelle and
Van Buren, Arkansas, where he continued to inspire and lead others in
Terrell balanced family, religion, medicine and community service throughout
his entire life. He did so with humility, humor and great humanity. His
family and friends are blessed with the legacy of love and integrity that
he leaves behind.
Memorials may be made to Southminster Presbyterian Church, TCMS, or Washington
U. Medical School in St. Louis.
A Memorial Service will be held 11:00 am, May 3rd 2014 at Southminster
Presbyterian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.