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Dr. JoAnne Whitaker, known to her family and friends as "Bopie", died peacefully on December 5, 2008 after her health failed due to many irreversible complications. The cause of death was Respiratory Failure. Her devoted dog and companion, "Jazz" was by her side.
Born in Bartow, Florida on February 8th 1927, Dr. Whitaker attended Bartow High School. Her family later moved to Winter Haven and she went on to attend Florida State University and upon graduation, enrolled at Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University. She was an internationally recognized research and teaching physician. Dr. Whitaker had extensive fellowship programs in pediatric, hematology, oncology, nutrition and psychiatry and taught in seven different medical schools. Her work as a doctor, researcher and instructor took her allover the country including places such as Sloan-Kettering and Bellevue hospitals (New York), Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Parkland Memorial Hospital and Children's Medical Center in Dallas Texas. She also spent nine years in Southeast Asia, starting a medical school and nutrition lab in Thaihind and developing research and training programs for Vietnamese physicians at the Children's Hospital in Saigon. Dr. Whitaker was a prominent international research who developed a new method to provide physicians with an accurate test for Lyme disease. She authored over 70 publications and accumulated numerous awards and citations throughout her career. She was president and director of research at the Bowen Research & Training Institute located in both Pinellas County's Tarpon Springs and Lake Alfred.
To her friends and family, Bopie will always be remembered for her spirit and passion for the study of medicine and her favorite sport, golf. Bopie was taught the game by the late Pete Cooper beginning at the age eleven. She spent many evening learning to swing the club by the light of the car headlights at the Cleveland Heights Golf Club. In an article written about Bopie while in medical school, she is talked about as follows: "With a drive in everything she undertakes as forcible as she wields the golf club, Bopie is always the one to set the pace. She distinguished herself early in her college career as an athlete of muiltiple ability and culminated her sports activities by becoming a 2-time winner of the Florida Amateur Golf Championship. This spirit of true sportsmanship which permeated Bopie's character was the keynote of her successful leadership as an inspiring ."F" Club president".
Bopie had been residing in Winter Haven on Lake Marianna for the past 5 years being near her family and roots. She continued her research in Lyme disease and also gave lectures and symposiums on the subject and also remained active with Bowen Research and Development in Lake Alfred.
Her family and friends will celebrate her life with a memorial service at her home in Winter Haven on January 4th, 2009 at 3:00 p.m.