Walter Smithwick III, M.D., prominent thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon in Jacksonville, FL, peacefully passed away on October 11, 2020 at the age of 81 following a 10-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He was born on February 27, 1939 in Lebanon, TN, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Smithwick Jr.
Dr. Smithwick graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.S. degree, and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 1965 where he was awarded the prestigious “Founder’s Medal First Honors School of Medicine Award.” He completed his training in general surgery at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in 1970 and his residency in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, training under Dr. John W. Kirklin at the University of Alabama. Dr. Smithwick served his country during the Vietnam War as a major in the Army and surgeon at Fort Rucker in Alabama. After completing his medical training in 1972, Dr. Smithwick moved to Jacksonville with his first wife, LoyDean Sims Smithwick, and their three children.
In Jacksonville, Dr. Smithwick joined the preeminent surgical practice of Dr. Theodore Batchelder and Dr. Harold Snyder at St. Vincent’s Hospital. Dr. Ted Wingard subsequently joined the group and their practice became North Florida Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons, the largest private group practicing in Florida. A gifted and dedicated surgeon for 27 years, Dr. Smithwick touched many lives and restored numerous patients to healthy lives through successful cardiac surgery. At St.Vincent’s Hospital he served as Chief of Cardiac Surgery and was instrumental in the establishment of The Heart/Lung Institute. Dr. Smithwick was a member of the American College of Surgeons (FACS), the American College of Cardiology (FACC), and the Duval County Medical Society. In addition to his medical practice, he was involved in charitable medical, civic, and cultural organizations in the Jacksonville community.
Following his retirement in 1999, Dr. Smithwick combined his love of gardening and the sea at his summer home, “Rosecliffe Cottage,” on the coast of Maine in Boothbay Harbor. This cottage was a treasured retreat where he enjoyed summers with his family, friends and Shih Tzu dogs.
Dr. Smithwick was a true renaissance man with many varied passions and interests. He was an avid golfer, sailor, and gardener, who traveled extensively throughout England, Europe and the Orient, pursuing his love of history, architecture, art, gardens and delicious food.
Dr. Smithwick was a communicant of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Jacksonville and All Saints by-the-Sea Church in Southport, Maine. He was a member of the Timuquana Country Club, The Sloane Club (London, England), the General Society of Colonial Wars, the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Florida, and the Order of the First Families of North Carolina. Dr. Smithwick was a past member of the River Club and the Seminole Club of Jacksonville, as well as the Ponte Vedra Beach Club.
For 40 years, Dr. Smithwick was the beloved husband of Cornelia Munroe Covington Smithwick of Jacksonville whom he married in 1980. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his three children; a daughter, Mary Elizabeth Fortugno (Greg George) of College Grove, TN; two sons, Dr. Walter Smithwick IV (Katherine) of Jacksonville, and Michael Oliver Smithwick of Lebanon, TN; four grandchildren, twins Dr. Andrew Paul Fortugno and Christina Elizabeth Fortugno, Emily Smithwick Garlow (Keith), and Elizabeth Rose Smithwick. He is also survived by his first wife, LoyDean Smithwick, of Lebanon, TN.
In addition to his immediate family, Dr. Smithwick is survived by his sister, Susan Smithwick Felts (Stephen) of Hermitage, TN, and their two children Andrew Felts and Susannah Felts Dills (Tod); his first cousin Stephen McLean of Nashville, TN; and two nephews by marriage, James N. McGarvey III and Michael Covington McGarvey of Charlotte, NC, sons of Victoria Lee Covington Graham (J. Edward) of Wilmington, NC.
Due to the pandemic, a private funeral service for the family will be held at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church followed by interment of ashes in their Memorial Garden. A celebration of Dr. Smithwick’s life to include his many friends will be held at a later date.
The Smithwick Family wishes to extend their profound appreciation to the loving and dedicated caregivers Kay and Brittany Sabbio, and to Marcella Ivey and her extraordinary team of devoted and caring CNA ladies, Phyllis Smith, Mashika Pittman, Joelle Livingston, Sharon Campbell, and Jacquelin Thorns.
In lieu of flowers, gifts in loving memory of Dr. Smithwick may be sent to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 4129 Oxford Ave., Jacksonville, Florida 32210 or to All Saints by-the-Sea Church, P.O. Box 377, Southport, Maine 04576.
Hardage-Giddens, Riverside Memorial Park & Funeral Home, Jacksonville, FL, 904-781-9262, www.hgriv