Dr. Paul W. Petcher passed away on Sunday, May 12, 2019, at the age of 96. As a physician, minister, father and friend, his life was committed to serving God and blessing people. He will be greatly missed.
Paul was born July 15, 1922 in the Cedar Creek community near Citronelle, AL to Glen William and Edith Fay Petcher. He was one of seven children.
Paul was predeceased by his wife, Emma Belle Brown Nash Petcher of Millry and his first wife Esther Mae Willson Petcher. He is survived by his sister, Joyce Petcher Cline (Lawrence) of Staunton, VA, by his children Cheryl Petcher Collins (William), Richard Petcher, Christine Petcher Sullivan, and Steven Petcher (DeEtta) by his step-children, Valerie Nash Ayres (Frank), Gregory (Vicky), Clifford (Cindy) and David (Phyllis) Nash. He is also survived by grandchildren, Carolyn Collins Bankman (Jesse), Jonathan Collins (Angela), Kevin, Ryan (Laura) and Erin Sullivan, Jennifer Petcher Smith (Kyle), Christopher and Andrew Petcher (Kalli) and by great grandchildren, Sonja and Arden Bankman, Avary and Aubrey Collins and Emily Sullivan.
The Petcher family were committed to the Lord Jesus Christ and to the Church of the Brethren and specifically to the Cedar Creek Church of the Brethren near Citronelle. A graduate of Bridgewater College and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, Paul made his commitment to be a doctor and serve on the mission field at the age of 12. He received his calling during a sermon by a medical missionary to Nigeria. Over two decades later, he was commissioned and sent to replace that very same man in the very same location! He—accompanied by his family—served there as a medical missionary and Elder of several churches from 1951-1960.
In 1960, when Paul and his family returned to the United States, they settled in Chatom, AL, where he continued practicing medicine for over 30 years. He was a general practioner, obstetrician, surgeon and skilled diagnostician. His surgeries led to the expansion of the Washington County Hospital; and his bedside manner and house calls led to the addition of the hospital nursing home, which now has 80 beds.
During his 60 years in Washington County, Paul collected and “tinkered with” antique vehicles. He delighted in taking family and friends for rides, and he made many friends of those who helped him with his “tinkering”. The “old cars” included a 1917 Model T Ford, A Model A Ford that was driven in the 1976 Bicentennial Parade in Citronelle, A 1950 Packard (the closest thing to a Sherman tank that he could find for his younger daughter to drive), and a 1964 Corvair Convertible. All four of his children drove these to school and around Chatom, and it sure would have been nice to have cell phones back then!
Dr. Petcher was an avid story teller and loved talking about his time in Nigeria. When he said, “Do you have a few minutes, let me tell you a story,” people were hooked and reeled in!
Services for Dr. Petcher include Visitation on Saturday, May 18, from 5-8:00 pm at Lathan Funeral Home in Chatom and a Memorial Service on Sunday, May 19, at 2:00 pm at the Cedar Creek Church of the Brethren near Citronelle, AL. Interment will also be at Cedar Creek Church. A reception will follow the service.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions to The Nigerian Crisis Fund, COB, 1451 Dundee Avenue, Elgin, IL 60120. (There are currently 50,000 orphans in Nigeria due to Boka Haram.)