Life is Beautiful
  • 84 years old
  • Born on September 21, 1929 in Fresno, California, United States.
  • Passed away on December 23, 2013 in Whittier, California, United States.

This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, James Dewhirst, 84, born on September 21, 1929 and passed away on December 23, 2013. We will remember him forever.

James Hardin Dewhirst, M.D.


September 21, 1929 – December 23, 2013


Dr. James Dewhirst, or Dr. D, or Dr. Jim, who practiced Family Medicine in Whittier /Hacienda Heights for 44 years, passed away after a 10 year bravely fought battle with pulmonary fibrosis.  Jim was born in Fresno, CA, but grew up in Bellflower and Whittier.   He attended Whittier High School, but dropped out!  (Yes, the great Dr. Jim, the son of two teachers, was a High School dropout!)  He was bored: more interested in working in the radiator shop, building his roadster, and racing.  He joined the army at age 16 and was stationed in Japan.  When he returned, he married Alice “Kay” Gardner.  He then joined the National Guard, returned to Japan for a second tour, serving in the medical corps, and came home to his wife and new daughter, Nancy.   Jim attended Whittier College, where he famously blew up the chemistry lab while arriving at the complex, volatile, chemical process that would eventually allow him to reclaim diamonds from used concrete saw blades; a process that helped fund his medical education.  He had a shop in El Monte (the one with a green cloud above it).  Couldn’t have helped his lungs! He attended U.S.C. School of Medicine, and began practicing in Whittier in 1959 with Dr. James Fitzgerald.  Dr. Jim then practiced independently until he and his colleagues formed Bright Medical Group, now PIH Health.  He made house calls.  He worked late most nights, and Kay was right there with him.  He was Chief of Staff at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in 1981, on the Board of Directors 1982 – 1988, and elected Director Emeritus in 1988.  Dr. Jim retired in 2003.


Jim was a true renaissance man.  He learned to build every part of a house while working with his father and brothers, growing up.  His knowledge and skill of construction and finish carpentry is legendary. 

He built a green roadster that could leave all the others in the dust.  Newlywed Kay was shocked to learn that she had married “that guy with the green roadster”!  (The one that out ran the police and tucked his car in the garage and himself in bed before they got to his house. - Foreshadowing of cars, boats, and airplanes to come).  He just loved to move fast.  Jim is related to Buddy Hardin Holly, and John Wesley Hardin; a rock’n roll star and a gunslinger - Perfect!  He lived life his way, all the way, with love, gusto, dignity, and integrity.   Jim lives on through the many people he loved, helped and empowered. 


Dr. Dewhirst is survived by his wife, Alice Kathryn (Kay) Dewhirst, daughter Nancy (Andrews) Dewhirst, two granddaughters; Carly Andrews (Brian Sciacca), Kathryn (Jamie) Beckert (Tyler Beckert), and one great granddaughter; Alani Sciacca.  Jim is also survived by his brother, Robert B. Dewhirst D.D.S. (Joan Dewhirst, RDH), and his sister, Dorothy Kosowsky.  In lieu of flowers, please listen to Louis Armstrong’s “It’s a Wonderful World” and/or contribute to the PIH Health Foundation’s Dr. James H. Dewhirst Endowment Fund established by Dorothy (Dewhirst) Kosowsky: (562) 698-0811 ext. 14125. Memorial will be held on February 8th at Whittier Presbyterian Hospital at 2:00 PM. 

Posted by Johana Moon-Garrison on 26th April 2016
Such a beautiful memorial. I was a dear friend of Kay's. In fact, I'm pretty sure I was a bridesmaid at their wedding. I did not know all of these wonderful things about Jim. Sounds like a brave, excited soul.
Posted by Jamie Beckert on 9th February 2014
Please copy and paste this link into your browser to see grandpa's memorial video:
Posted by Carden Frantz on 8th February 2014
There was hardly a time in my life where Kay and Jim Dewhirst were not present. When I was in Junior High School I injured my left knee running through a field. The local doctor put my leg in a cast Jim and Kay were at my parents house for dinner that night. Jim did not like the cast, he took me out to the garage set me on the ping pong table and cut the cast off, then drove me to his office in whittier and drained my knee !! ( my Dad fainted) High school graduation we had dinner together. All my Lake Havasu trips were with the Dewhirst clan. Yay for taco meat sandwiches !! When I returned from Vietnam there were my parents and Jim and Kay on the pier in San Diego. College graduation, yep Jim and Kay and Mom and Dad and great wine !! 2 Magnums of Laffitte Rothchild 1969. Heaven on earth !! Jim was there when I fractured 3 disks in my neck. He guided me through cancer and asked the questions that needed to be answered. There was never a time when I was sick or injured that Jim and Kay were not there. My second set of parents. Our lives were enriched by the Dewhirst family. I would wish all people could have a friend like Kay and Jim Dewhirst in their lives. Thank you: Carden "Jeff" Frantz
Posted by Lauryl Schumacher on 8th February 2014
Today we celebrate Dr. Jim's life, and what a life it was! This man meant so much to us. We can't even put into words how much we loved and adored him. We will miss you so much Dr. Jim! You were a part of or "everyday" and you meant the world to us. We love you....godbye...for now..cheers! Love, Dan & Lauryl Schumacher
Posted by Jamie Beckert on 5th February 2014
I love and miss you Grandpa, I hope you're having a nice glass of wine in Heaven, looking out over all of us. xoxo

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