SWEET – Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School students Karmen Kane, right, and Sophia Stark make chocolate-dipped strawberries Wednesday night during the Keet Family Night. Hundreds attended the event, which included a chili dinner, activities and heart-shaped cookies. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Thomas Lawrence Conley Jan. 27, 1944 – April 18, 2018

Thomas Lawrence Conley

Thomas Lawrence Conley
Jan. 27, 1944 – April 18, 2018

Thomas Lawrence Conley was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on January 27, 1944, and raised there.
A child of an Irish-American family, he attended Duquesne University. He considered becoming a historian, but eventually decided to attend medical school at the University of Chicago. There he met his future wife, Marylyn, purportedly when providing a urine sample, and they were married on June 8, 1968.
He was drafted by the U.S. Navy upon graduation from the university, and served out the Vietnam War in Subic Bay, Philippines. After the war, he lived in Seattle and Albuquerque before moving to Ketchikan in 1975, originally to work with Alaska Native Health.
He and his family stayed in Ketchikan until 1992, then lived in Caldwell, Idaho, and Sheridan, Wyoming, before finding his way back to Southeast Alaska by joining SEARHC in 1996. He was Alaska Doctor of the Year, and served on the state medical licensing board for many years.
His hobbies included working, skiing, avidly consuming thousand-page history books alongside junk science fiction, fishing, and losing fights with his computer. He traveled extensively, performing medical service work in Africa and Haiti, and recreationally, including trips to Australia, Scotland, Ireland, France, New Zealand, the USSR, and Russia.
He served on school boards for nearly 30 years, often as president. One of his proudest moments was granting his daughter Anya her high-school diploma in 2003.  He was famed for going the extra mile for patient care, but loved for his complex sense of humor, fondness for tall tales, and his elaborate practical jokes. He died on April 18, 2018, at the Sitka Pioneer home of Parkinson’s-related complications.

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