Honoring the Legacy of Dr. Thomas McMicken

Thursday, October 12, 2017
We are deeply saddened to announce that Watson Clinic Bartow family medicine physician Dr. Thomas McMicken passed away on Wednesday, October 11.

Dr. Tom McMicken will be deeply missed here at Watson Clinic and in our greater community. Tom was one of our Clinic’s most beloved physicians. 

The McMicken family will receive friends Friday, October 20, 2017 in the afternoon,2-4 pm, and in the evening, 6-8 pm, at Whidden-McLean Funeral Home, 650 EastMain Street, Bartow, Florida. The funeral service will be held on Saturday,October 21, 2017 at 11 am at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 210 Poppell Drive,Lakeland, FL. Interment with military honors will follow at Wildwood Cemetery,Bartow, FL.

Memorials may be sent to:

Covenan Presbyterian, 210 Poppell Drive, Lakeland, 33813
Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine, 1021 Lakeland Hills Boulevard, Lakeland, 33805
Bartow Church Service Center, 495 East Summerlin Street, Bartow, 33830
Lighthouse Ministries, Inc., 215 East Magnolia Street, Lakeland, 33801

Pleas join us in keeping the McMicken family in your prayers.

The following article was written earlier this year to commemorate Dr. McMicken's remarkable legacy of serving the healthcare needs of the community for five decades.

Few figures have had a longer or more profound impact on the Bartow community than Dr. Thomas McMicken.

He’s a Vietnam veteran, a former Mayor, and a board-certified family medicine specialist who has served the needs of patients from the Watson Clinic Bartow location since 1986. These distinctions only scratch the surface of his fascinating life story.

Dr. McMicken first recognized the importance of community eight decades ago in the small town of Salem, West Virginia. “We had a population of a little over 2,000 people,” he reflects.

Born on November 6, 1937, he recalls a childhood filled with the comforts of family and the camaraderie of close friends. Growing up with seven siblings – including three older brothers and four sisters – he characterized himself as a typical kid who loved sports.

“I followed one of my older brothers in my love of sports. We played a lot of sports together in high school,” he says. “At Salem College, I continued to play baseball, basketball and football.”

Though he enjoyed his time on the field, it was the medical profession that ultimately determined the course of his life.

He decided to follow another of his older brothers to Jefferson Medical College (now called Thomas Jefferson University) in Philadelphia, PA, the alma mater for some of the most influential medical innovators in American history. He graduated with his medical degree in 1963 and went on to perform an internship at Mount Park Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL, which is now Bayfront Health.

He was well on his way to advancing in his chosen career path when fate stepped in with other plans. The war in Vietnam was raging, and Dr. McMicken temporarily put a hold on his educational pursuits to answer the call of duty. He was drafted into the Army as a Battalion Surgeon, and trained at both Ft. Sam Houston in Texas and Ft. Benning in Georgia before his deployment to Vietnam in 1965. He ended his period of service as Captain of the 1st Air Calvary. He would continue to indulge in his love of aviation throughout most of his life.

In the summer of 1965, following his one-year stint of proud patriotic service, Dr. McMicken returned to Bayfront Health to perform his general surgery residency.

“I was interested in many different aspects in medicine,” he says. “From cardiology to delivering babies to performing trauma surgery, I did it all.”

He moved to Bartow in 1967, and he’s remained there ever since. “I like small towns, and Bartow was a perfect place to raise my kids,” he says.

His first practice was a collaboration with fellow physician Dr. Clyde Gibson. In 1986, he was courted to join Watson Clinic as their first family practice specialist. He quickly set a standard of excellence to which the clinic strives in all of its departments and endeavors.

But his beloved medical practice is just one way he’s set a high standard for others to follow. For more than 50 years, his drive to serve the Bartow community has been a reassuring constant.

He was elected to the City Commission, as the Mayor of Bartow for one year, and as Vice Mayor for two years. He served on the Bartow Airport Authority for three years and as Chairman of the organization for one year. He’s a former President of the Polk County Medical Association, and was Chief of Staff at Bartow Regional Medical Center for six terms. He was a founding member of the group that implemented the Chamber’s Leadership Bartow program, and served as Chairman for the Health & Human Services Day for many years. A member of the Bartow Rotary Club since 1968, he has served on many local committees including the talent show, the Bartow Interact Club, scholarship committees, and singing groups. He even played Santa Claus for many years at the Bartow Rotary's Children’s Christmas Party.

He’s received many awards including the first Physician Community Service Award from Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine, the Medal of Merit from the Bartow Rotary for services within his profession, the Republican National Committee Physician of the year in 2003, and the Spirit of Bartow Award recipient in 2014.

He is the medical board member for the American Cancer Society, Chairman of the Polk County Citizen Oversight Committee, President of the Homeowner’s Association of Square Lake, and he served on the Bartow Community Healthcare Foundation Board.

His many accomplishments, awards and appointments can be listed in detail, but his influence on the growth and wellbeing of the Bartow community is too vast to measure. You can see it in the warm reception he receives when he enters any venue in the city. You can feel it in the warmth and appreciation of generations of patients who have entrusted their care to him over the years.

His personal life has been every bit as gratifying as his professional one. He’s been happily married to his wife Kathleen for 52 years. They have two sons and one daughter, seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

There’s little doubt that life has blessed Dr. McMicken. But Dr. McMicken has also blessed all of us – the entire Bartow family – with his life of dedicated service, compassionate outreach, and medical expertise.

“I’ve become more idealistic as I’ve gone along. I am a committed Christian and try to guide my life by the biblical admonition to do all things as if you do it unto the Lord,” he says. “Medicine is a service-oriented business – it really is friends taking care of friends. When I think about the friends I’ve made over the years, and the families I’ve been able to care for, I am deeply appreciative.”


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