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In Memoriam ~ Joseph Francis Wethington, Ph.D., M.D.

Joseph Francis Wethington, Ph.D., M.D. 

Father of Margaret Arnold, Regent

Grandfather of Claire ’12, Patrick ’13, Ellen ’15 and Matthew ’17

Wethington, Joseph Francis, Ph.D., M.D. passed away April 20, 2020, due to complications of the novel coronavirus at the age of 93. He was born on August 11, 1926, in Huntington, West Virginia, where he was raised on a dairy farm by his parents, Joseph and Etta Wethington, along with five sisters. Dr. Wethington is survived by his wife, Ellen, and their six children and spouses: Michael (Wendy) Wethington, Anne Wethington, Margaret (John) Arnold, Joseph (Susan) Wethington, Elizabeth (Gary) Vaughan, Patrick (Kerry) Wethington, and grandchildren: Michael Joseph Jr. and Anna Marie Wethington (Thomas Myers); Claire, Patrick, Ellen and Matthew Arnold; Glenna and Grace Wethington; Michael Francis and Hannah Vaughan; & Madeline, Audrey, Jacqueline and Adeline Wethington and many loving nieces and nephews from throughout the country. He was preceded in death by infant daughter, Anna Marie, his parents, his sisters, Mary Catherine Wethington, Esther Squire, Dorothy Black, Helen Ortman, and Sr. Marie Josetta Wethington.

After graduating from St. Joseph High School in Huntington, he first attended Marshall University and graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree. Following graduation, he moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where he received a master’s degree in human anatomy from Creighton University. He then enrolled at the University of Minnesota for a doctoral degree in anatomy. While at the university, he taught biology at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota. He met his wife of 65 years, Ellen Rosemarie Schaub of Ipswich, South Dakota, and they were married at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church in Minneapolis on May 28, 1955. Following their wedding, they moved to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, where he became a member of the University of Ottawa’s Department of Anatomy. As a faculty member, he attended medical school at the university and received his degree in medicine and a doctorate degree in anatomy.

After graduation from the University of Ottawa, the couple returned to Minneapolis. Upon completing his residency at St. Mary’s Hospital, Minneapolis, he joined the Coon Rapids Medical Center group, and over three decades was instrumental in growing the multi-specialty group in several locations in the metro area (now Allina Health System). He was a charter member of Mercy and Unity hospitals making rounds and working in the emergency rooms for the Emergency Physicians Professional Association. He was instrumental in establishing the first hospice program at Mercy Hospital.

Dr. Wethington was a lifetime member of the Minnesota Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, and an Emeritus Registered Physician in the State of Minnesota. While active in his medical practice, Dr. Wethington served as the Anoka County Medical Examiner for 25 years and helped, along with his wife, establish a missionary medical clinic in San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala. They were founding members at the Church of Epiphany helping establish a parish community and campus that included a grade school, a new church, a cemetery and a senior care complex all along supporting his dear friend, Fr. Bernard Reiser. Although a recipient of numerous professional and civic awards and recognition in Anoka County and the regional medical community, our father’s true love was for his beloved Ellen, his children, grandchildren and the land.

Dr. Wethington loved the lakes and rivers of Minnesota ultimately raising the family on the Mississippi River. A Master Gardener and farmer at heart, his passions included working at his hobby farm in Monticello, growing and sharing flowers and vegetables with family and friends, clearing land, growing crops, building paths and a par three golf course for his wife. Dr. Wethington had a deep love of history and was an avid reader, quoting from books and the Wall Street Journal up to his last day. He loved to write, and in 2007, he penned and published his life story, “Memoirs of a Minnesota Physician”. A life-long learner, he was always willing to research and start a project of any scope and see it through to completion. Although his ability to travel became limited in recent years, he reflected on many family and international trips and shared in the planning and joy of his children and grandchildren’s travels.

He will be greatly missed for his ability to heal his patients, serve people, and plan countless family gatherings. He will also be missed for his endless energy and engaging conversations on a wide range of topics. Our father left this world with “so many things I want to do, topping the list is to practice medicine again.” The family would like to thank Dr. Shauna Morrow of Park Nicollet Medical Center and all of our father’s caregivers for their dedicated care, especially Chelsie Plath, whose special care these past few months brought comfort to our father and peace to our family. Due to restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, a virtual Mass of the Christian Burial will be held at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church at 3 p.m. on April 30, 2020, and can be viewed at…. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, One Lourdes Place, Minneapolis, MN 55414, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, 200 University Avenue East, Saint Paul, MN 55101, in honor of children with special needs. Davies Chapel 612-377-2203