Donald Dean Trunkey, M.D., 81
Donald Dean Trunkey passed away peacefully with his loved ones by his side on May 1, 2019, in Post Falls, Idaho. He was born on June 23, 1937, in Oakesdale, Wash., to John Douglas and Rebecca Nelson Trunkey. The family moved to St. John, Wash., where Don grew up and graduated from St. John High School in 1955 as valedictorian. He attended what was then Washington State College and received a degree in zoology, which made him the last person to have graduated from WSC before it officially became Washington State University. He was a member of Alpha Tau Omega.
Don and Jane Trunkey were married in Colfax, Wash., on Sept. 26, 1958. After graduation, Don went on to the University of Washington, where he received his doctorate of medicine degree. He did a rotating internship in Portland, Ore., at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU).
Don later served within the U.S. Army with the 4th Armored Division 2nd Calvary, in Bamberg, Germany, in the dispensary for two years. While there, their son, Robert Derek was born in Nuremberg, Germany; followed four years later by their daughter, Kristina “Kristi” Jo, born in San Francisco, Calif.
Don had a stellar career as a trauma surgeon — first through his residency in San Francisco, then becoming chairman of surgery at San Francisco General Hospital. Also a professor emeritus of surgery at the Oregon Health Science University, Don was presented the WSU Alumni Association’s Alumni Achievement Award in recognition of his influential career and contributions to medical education, surgical methods and trauma care.
While in Portland, he also served as the head of the 50th General Hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia within Desert Storm.
Don often volunteered in Landstuhl, Germany. While there, Col. Trunkey and Col. Daniel Cavanaugh flew Lieutenant General John. J. Yeosock to Germany for an operation. When they returned a few days later, Lt. General John J. Yeosock began the ground war. The order was given by Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. Commander-in-Chief. Col. Trunkey was given a Bronze Star for his service.
Don is survived by his wife, Jane Mary Trunkey; son, R. Derek (Kristen Hammond) Trunkey and daughter, Kristi Trunkey. He is also survived by his sister, Sandie Trunkey and his grandchildren, Ethan, Nathan, Mason, Hayden, Hayley and Harrison. Don was preceded in death by his parents and his brothers, Jay, Gary, David Roger and K.B.
A memorial service for Don will be held at a later date.
In lieu of donations, please send to Trunkey Family Scholarship, S.J.E. School Foundation. PO Box 411, St. John, WA. 99171 or the St. John Heritage Museum, PO Box 315, St. John, WA 91711.
The family also asks for donations to be made in honor of Don to the College of Arts and Sciences Scholarship Fund or the College of Education Scholarship Fund at Washington State University, located at: https://foundation.wsu.edu/give/. Checks should be made payable to the Washington State University Foundation and mailed to the Washington State University Foundation at PO Box 641925, Pullman, WA 99164-1925. Please designate on the check ”in honor of Don Trunkey, College of Arts and Sciences Scholarship Fund” OR ”the College of Education Scholarship Fund.”
One thought on “Donald Dean Trunkey JUNE 23, 1955 ~ MAY 1, 2019 (AGE 63) by English Funeral Chapel”
Comment by Carol Fink:
Oh Dear, It was serendipity that Jane shared a joke and her message back never mentioning Dr T. So I googled, fearing lousy news, and that’s how I found that ‘Trunkey’ (as I knew him) had left us wayyy too soon. That disease robs one of everything and I’m sure he hated living with it. I was recovering from a femur fracture and was drugged for a few months including May.
Like others, Dr. T got me into a career spanning 27 years, starting in the old Mish, as we called the old ER, run by Gladys Jones, whom we adored, in 1969. I was evaluating the suicide attempts in the rubber room, he was doing trauma early on, and as I saw patients in the med surgical units we became friends.
When he one weekend snuck into the basement, where any drug one wanted was being dealt, and he brought a few funky beds and an old claw foot tub up to a really shabby closed ward and started a BURN UNIT, he asked me to meet with the nursing staff, who were having nightmares of the patient screams during painful debridement, and were threatening to leave.
Sure, I’d have done anything he asked, and burns were a pretty challenging introduction to Trauma. I loved it and we truly developed a close knit family of nursing staff with consultants from St. Francis and his leadership. We heated food on old noisy registers, walked our patients into the tub room, and really had some awesome successes. Chasing little ones through the dark corridors was one of the most challenging creative things we did.
Treating abused wee ones broke our collective hearts. But Trunkey brought out the best in staff, and we all wanted to be better, for him. When we moved into the new hospital we stocked the frig with Rainier Ale, one calorie per cc and tastier than Ensure. A brilliant Trunkey idea, and he taught us all that food was the best antibiotic. I’ve quoted him so often, and not just about antibiotics.
We did a few burn meetings in New Orleans where not only were there oysters and jazz, but the most bawdy artwork in the back room of his favorite gallery. Trunkey was a great storyteller and loved showing his most gory slides at meeting and teaching house staff. An arrow to the head was a favorite.
My favorite story probably happened in the new hospital where, besides telling new house staff they had best listen to the nurses, and ask questions because they knew more, he told me once when I knocked on the office door too bitch about some ‘youngster’ that asked was he Jewish (knew I had trouble with men much like I had grown up with, spoiled by mums) said he’d tell them there was room for only one prince or princess in our castle, and the job was taken.
He always had my back, and I adored him. We all knew how much he ADORED Jane and the family, and couldn’t wait to get home to them, UNLESS a big trauma came in. He was bigger than life, and funnier, and truly loved trauma, teaching and doing. And didn’t suffer fools, so when he moved up to Oregon I got into trouble with a new burn plastics guy and moved up the floor to the Trauma ICU where I made a new fabulous home for myself, but quoted my buddy often and missed him always. Jane, ‘kids,’ you lost him wayyyy too soon.
The last conversation we had several years ago was his hoping the College would figure out a way to test surgeon’s ability so he could work for lots longer, in the OR where he was happiest. If God needs any help choosing beers or wines, or maybe treating a burn from down below, he’ll be there to help. My heart breaks for you all. There will never be another Dr. Trunkey.
Hugs and much much love,
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