Friends, family, remember Late doctor
found in Montana River
once voted "best athlete of the year"
By Meagan Ellsworth, Staff Writer
doctor found in a Montana River has been identified as 1963 Conroe High
School valedictorian and quarterback, Dr. Whitson “Pete” Beazley
“Pete was kind of the hero of our class,” Retired Conroe ISD teacher and
mentor, Sam Cable said “Everybody loved Pete.”
Cable believes the longtime friend of their close-knit class is one of
the most successful people to graduate from Conroe High School and that
he deserves a place in the downtown Conroe mural among other great
alumni for his career accomplishments.
The once voted “best athlete of the year,” who wore bean bag weights on
his feet and ran the bleachers, remained active throughout his life.
Even as a surgeon, his younger sister Jo Carol Oberman said he would
take the stairs instead of the elevator and he had another mode of
transportation as a young surgeon in Ft. Collins, Colorado.
“He would cross country ski to and from the hospital to get to work,”
She reflected on her brother’s memory at the Pacific Yard House, the
former Sparkle Ice House, that the two would eat popsicles at while
cooling off next to the railroad tracks where he once took a train ride
with Cable to the Houston rodeo.
Etheridge, 74, and his family have deep roots in Conroe’s history and
development. His grandfather, Obie Etheridge owned The Courier newspaper
and was a vital part of early Conroe. His father, Whitson Etheridge, was
also a Conroe icon.
But perhaps Etheridge left his most notable mark as a nephrologist who
helped pioneer life-saving work, mentored surgeons, and dedicated his
life to his patients, including his old hometown friend and late Conroe
City Councilman J. Ross Martin.
After he graduated from Conroe High School, he served in the Navy
Reserves, obtained degrees from the University of Texas and Baylor
College of Medicine. He served his internship, residency and fellowships
at Baylor College of Medicine, University of Utah, and Breckenridge
Hospital. His education and career ultimately led to affiliations with
nearly 20 Houston area hospitals and numerous accomplishments.
“In 1986, Etheridge was an integral part of the team at St. Luke’s
Episcopal Hospital that started their kidney transplant program, a
unique collaboration between UT-Houston Medical School and the Baylor
College of Medicine,” stated Dr. Sarah Shearer with Renal Specialists of
Houston, which Etheridge joined as the second member in 1980.
Until his death, Etheridge served as the Medical Director of St. Luke’s
Kidney Transplant Program and subsequently Clinical Director of
Transplant Services, and the Chair of the Medical Review Board of St.
Luke’s Heart Transplant Program.
As a Clinical Associate Professor of Baylor College of Medicine,
Etheridge received numerous teaching awards, including the Master
Clinician of the Year award at St. Luke’s Hospital in 2011. Over the
years, Dr. Etheridge worked as Medical Director of multiple Fresenius
dialysis clinics, focusing on the care of patients in communities far
removed from Houston’s Medical Center, Shearer said.
“He was dedicated to educating the next generation of doctors,” Shearer
The 1963 Conroe High School Valedictorian and Quarterback, Dr.
Whitson “Pete” Beazley Etheridge II, has been identified as a
Houston doctor found in a Montana River earlier this month
When he wasn’t at work, the avid fly fisher and his family had a
second home with some acreage along the Shields River near
Livingston in Southern Montana, where Etheridge went missing on
July 10 after running, playing golf, and eating dinner with
guests earlier in the day. A search was reportedly conducted
with dogs and helicopters equipped with infrared technology. He
was found in the river the next day.
Oberman said the final report confirmed an accidental drowning,
possibly due to fainting and dehydration, while checking a
fishing spot where his reader glasses were found nearby.
Family, friends, and numerous medical professionals described
Etheridge fondly as a brilliant, dedicated doctor, a man of few
words with a quick-wit and a “heart of gold,” a product of the
Texas Public School System, and a “giant among legends.” His
medical colleagues shared in an audio recording of the the
medical center’s memorial service that it’s hard for them to
believe Etheridge is not just on vacation anymore.
“Not only was he a nephrologist, he was a cardiologist, an
immunologist, a pathologist, but overall unbelievable doctor,”
said Baylor St. Luke’s Kidney Transplant Surgical Director
Christine O'Mahony, MD during the memorial service. “…It is
going to take many people to do the million jobs that Pete has
done flawlessly and effortlessly over the past 30 years.”
Etheridge had three sisters, a wife, a son, a daughter, and five
grandchildren. The family is planning to host an event from 4-6
p.m. in Aug. 21 at Martin’s Hall in downtown Conroe for friends
to share memories.
Courier July 29, 2019