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1917 - 2018

Gerald Needham, M.D. (M ’47)

Dr. Gerald Morton Needham “Jerry”, 100, of Rochester, passed away peacefully on Saturday, February 17, 2018 at Charter House in Rochester.

Jerry was born August 4, 1917 in Caldwell, ID to Oliver and Susie (Crowther) Needham. He received his B.S. degree in 1940 from the College of Idaho and a Ph.D. degree in microbiology in 1947 from the University of Minnesota. On June 26, 1942 Jerry married Billie Buettner. Jerry and Billie were blessed with two children, Robert and Patricia. Dr. Needham served a residency at the University of Minnesota Hospitals from 1942-47 and was a fellow in microbiology in the Mayo Graduate School from 1946-47. In 1947, Dr. Needham was appointed to the Mayo Clinic staff as a consultant in microbiology. From 1971-77, Dr. Needham served as Associate Dean for Student Affairs at Mayo Medical School and was named assistant dean in 1977. He held several positions in education at Mayo including Assistant Director of Mayo Graduate School, and Associate Director of the Mayo School of Health-Related Sciences. Prior to his time at Mayo, Dr. Needham was assigned to the University of Minnesota during World War II where he taught in the Department of Bacteriology and was in charge of that department at the University Hospitals. He assisted in organizing the first Red Cross Blood Bank in Minnesota and served as a consulting bacteriologist in the Economics Laboratory. Dr. Needham served on many boards of directors including, Rochester Methodist Hospital, the College of Saint Teresa, and Hamline University, where he was named a Life Trustee. He has served in leadership roles in several professional and civic organizations, including Rotary President in 1984-85, and 55 years of leadership in the Boy Scouts of America where he was awarded the highest volunteer awards on the regional and national levels, the Silver Antelope and Silver Beaver awards. Dr. Needham was also an active member at Christ United Methodist Church, where he served in many leadership positions on the local and conference levels. Upon retiring, Jerry had more time to devote to his life-long hobby of woodworking. He and Billie moved to Charter House where he enjoyed working with exotic woods. He loved crafting various items which were donated to the Methodist Hospital Auxiliary gift shop and PEO.

Jerry is survived by his loving wife, Billie; children, Dr. Robert (Janice) Needham of Waconia, MN, Patricia (Bruce) Steuernagel of Burnsville, MN; six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother.

A celebration of life service will be held 11:00 a.m. Friday, February 23, 2018 at Christ United Methodist Church, 400 5th Ave. SW, Rochester, MN 55902. Visitation will be held from 10:00 a.m. until time of the service. The Rev. Elizabeth Macaulay will be officiating with burial at Grandview Memorial Gardens.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to Christ United Methodist Church or to the Gamehaven Council BSA, 1124 11 ½ St. SE, Rochester, MN 55904. To share a special memory or condolence, please visit

Obituary courtesy of Rochester Post-Bulletin

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