VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, July 7, 2017

Keep Calm and Retire On

Good morning on a beautiful Friday!

It’s that time of the year when we say a lot of goodbyes as many of our longtime colleagues start a new chapter in their lives.

Retirement can be very bittersweet, especially to those who have given such a significant portion of their lives to the Medical Center. Every one of this year’s 65 retirees have contributed to the mission and vision of UMMC in ways too great to list here, but we are deeply grateful for their service.

They have done this through loyalty, dedication, passion and a willingness to do their jobs as if the Medical Center depended on them. And, of course it does.

Together, they represent 1,964 years of service to UMMC! And of that number, five worked here for 40 or more years. Collectively, they brought many unique talents to our table, contributing to excellence in patient care and helping to make our system a health care workplace of choice.


That outstanding group includes Frankie Gaines, a phlebotomist here for 52 years. When Frankie celebrated her 50th anniversary, Human Resources didn’t know if we’d ever had an employee that long. They had to redesign, and special order, her 50-year pin. I loved the joy she showed at our retirement ceremony, and I’m sure she brought that same joy to work with her every day. 

For 31 years, Dr. Susan Buttross has been a champion of our state’s children. I’m grateful we won’t lose all of her wisdom and experience as she continues with us on a part-time basis and as a representative of the Medical Center on her weekly Southern Remedy radio show.

Our campus won’t be the same without Dr. Diane Beebe’s red sports car. On top of adding some flash to the campus, she selflessly gave to so many during her 33-year tenure – her patients first, but also students, residents and faculty. She’s served in leadership roles statewide and nationally, representing Mississippi with the utmost in grace and professionalism.

During the course of his 46-year career, Dr. Tate Thigpen has trained most of the state’s oncologists. He’s built a national reputation for excellence and top-quality patient care. His legacy will live on for many years.

His longtime colleague, Debbie Christie, helped our Cancer Registry and the Mississippi Cancer Registry grow into the highly rated resources that they are today. During her 45 years here, she became the “Wikipedia” of UMMC cancer policy, growth and history. Tate and Debbie take with them a combined 91 years of experience in dealing with cancer patients in Mississippi – impossible to not miss.

And many students will remember Dr. Skip Nolan, who during his 31 years at UMMC took them to Peru and other locations so they could learn about medicine outside the United States. Think you’ve got a case of chikungunya? Ask Skip Nolan!

These are just a few of our retirees, all of whom made contributions that we’ve come to value. Although we are very happy for those who are now enjoying the seven-day weekend, we will have to learn to live and work without being able to turn around and make use of their experience and other intangibles that allowed them all to have such long, esteemed careers.

I hope the next step for them is wonderful and full of doing whatever it is they want to do. We owe them a debt for staying true to the Medical Center and accompanying us on our journey to create A Healthier Mississippi.

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