Dr. Jim Wurgler of Williams of Arizona — known to his friends as JW, J-dub or Doc — passed away on Nov. 13, 2019 in Flagstaff after suffering a stroke. He went peacefully and gently, surrounded by family.
Jim is survived by his wife of 59 years, five children, 15 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren. He is also survived by two sisters, many nieces, nephews and beloved friends.
Dr. Wurgler practiced medicine for more than four decades, dedicating himself to community service, health and wellbeing. He was born in Basin, Wyo., on June 28, 1933 to Nelson and Florence Wurgler. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Southern Methodist University and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School.
He demonstrated his ongoing commitment to the community from his Army service as a physician in Vietnam along with his leadership of the Yosemite Medical Clinic, followed by the Grand Canyon Clinic and finally at Williams Health Care Center in Williams, Ariz.
Mentoring was very important to JW. He revitalized Yosemite National Park’s EMT training program in 1978, teaching advanced emergency medicine for several years to the park’s rangers. One of his proudest moments was receiving an Honorary Park Ranger award and the title, “The Ranger’s Doctor.”
In retirement, he was an elected member of the Williams City Council and served as Chair of the Board of Directors for The NARBHA Institute. He also served as president and board member of the Sustainable Economic Development Initiative; board member of the Grand Canyon Association; board member of The Guidance Center; and member of the Northern Arizona Council of Governments Economic Development Committee, the Arizona Academy of Family Practice, Habitat for Humanity and Arizona Clean and Beautiful.
He also served as a medical consultant to NASA for Space Station Freedom. Recently, he was recognized by The NARBHA Institute with an Endowed Chair in his honor at Northern Arizona University to illuminate behavioral health and criminal justice work in the community and at the academic level.
Doc’s last major effort was to assist North Country HealthCare in establishing a family practice residency in rural medicine. He relished the opportunity to help aspiring doctors understand and appreciate rural medicine. He was going to lead the first group of residents on “rural grand rounds” in summer 2020. Doc was very proud and excited about this project.
In lieu of flowers to the Wurgler family, please consider a contribution to the North Country HealthCare Foundation to support Family Medicine Residency (2920 N. 4th St, Flagstaff, AZ 86004). Or an alternative nonprofit such as the Grand Canyon Conservancy, (PO Box 399, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023), Mono Lake Committee (PO Box 29, Lee Vining, CA 93541) or any historical railway restoration project.
A celebration of his life is being planned in late winter or early spring (2020). Per Doc’s wishes, there will be no funeral or religious services.
“The single most important guiding principal in my life for as long as I can remember has been The Golden Rule… treat others as you want to be treated.” — JW