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1931 - 2023

Neil Thomford, M.D., Ph.D. (S ’63)

July 22, 1931  –  April 25, 2023

Dr. Neil Roger Thomford, age 91, passed away peacefully on April 25, 2023, in Perrysburg, Ohio.

Neil was born July 22, 1931, in Red Wing, Minnesota to Orie and Beatrice (Anderson) Thomford. Neil was raised in Zumbrota, Minnesota and was a 1947 graduate of Zumbrota High School. Neil earned his medical degree from the University of Minnesota in 1955. Following graduation, he served in the US Navy Medical Corp sailing the Pacific and Arctic. Often, the ship’s mess hall became the operating room as members of the local populations, such as the Inuit, were medically tended to on board. After an honorable discharge, Neil returned to Minnesota for his fellowship in surgery at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine.

In 1966, Neil began his practice, and lifelong career as an educator of medical students and residents, in General Surgery at The College of Medicine at The Ohio State University. In 1975, Neil was named the first full-time professor and Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of North Dakota. Shortly thereafter he was appointed to Acting Dean of the University of North Dakota Medical School. In 1980, Neil became Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the Medical College of Ohio in Toledo, a role he held for most of his tenure prior to his retirement.

Neil was a founding member of the Continental Surgical Club, a society started in 1956 by a group of colleagues who had completed the surgical residency at the Mayo Clinic. Meeting each year in a new location, the members enjoyed sharing medical advancements and their experiences as practicing physicians, reminiscing on their days at Mayo and enjoying a deep friendship spanning more than fifty years.

Dr. Thomford was known to his colleagues, residents, nurses, and patients as a kind and caring physician whose calm demeanor and gentle manner will be deeply missed.

When not tending to patients, Neil was an avid outdoorsman. He loved being near the water and in the mountains. He had a deep love of hunting and fishing from the time he was a child. He enjoyed hunting for elk in Wyoming with his brothers and friends and fishing for steelhead and salmon in both Wisconsin and Alaska. In his 50s, Neil chose to pick up golf and went on to hit three holes-in-one. In his later years, Neil enjoyed gardening and would regularly deliver harvested vegetables to the Cherry Street Mission.

Neil met Pamela Southon Morris in Columbus, Ohio during his time at The Ohio State University. They fell in love and were married on November 2, 1968. Neil and Pamela had four children: Kimberly Thomford (Rodger) Eich of Holland, Michigan, Matthew (Michelle) Thomford of Perryburg, Ohio, Todd (Sarah Hite) Thomford of Englewood, Colorado and Mark (Amy) Thomford of Wilton, Connecticut.

Neil is survived by his wife, children, and twelve grandchildren: Zoe Eich, Beckett Eich, Drew Thomford, Tyler Thomford, Ethan Thomford, Emma Thomford, Morgan Thomford, Raegan Thomford, Samantha Carpenter, Kaitlynn Carpenter, Isla Thomford, and Carson Thomford. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, and brothers, Robert Lee Thomford and Wayne Loren Thomford.

Neil’s family will remember him for his love of old country music, cross-country motor home trips together, stories of his upbringing on the farm in Minnesota and annual family gatherings in Northern Michigan. He was not materialistic, wanting few things beyond the health, education, and well-being of his family. He enjoyed knowing everyone was having a good time but did not want to be the focus of the occasion. He was always up for dancing with family and friends. He was a patient listener, but also determined to follow his instincts. As a habit he would give a slight smile and tip of his coffee cup to acknowledge you or say hello. He had an uncanny ability to use humor to deflect attention from the challenges of aging. He was “Doctor Thomford” to so many, but to us he was Dad, Grandpa, Papa or simply ‘Pops’ and we miss him very much.

A memorial will be held at a future date. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Alzheimer’s Association at

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