James Douglass Whiffen, M.D.

Ellen Agerbak Anderson

MADISON-James Douglass Whiffen, MD, age 82, of Madison passed away on January 16th, 2013. He was born January 16th, 1931 in New York, the son of Lorna D. Whiffen and John P. Whiffen. He graduated from Wisconsin High School in 1948 and was the most valuable player and captain of the basketball team 1947-48. He graduated from University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1952. Jim continued his studies at the UW Medical School graduating MD in 1955. He completed a surgical internship at the Ohio State University in Columbus Ohio 1955-56.

Jim served in the United States Navy as part of the Medical Corps on the aircraft carrier USS Philippine Sea from 1956-58. He attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He completed his surgical residency at the University Hospitals in Madison 1958-62. During this time Jim married Arlis Edgington December 30th, 1960. From 1962-1997 he served on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin Medical School attaining full Professor in 1971. He was selected to be a prestigious Markle Scholar in Academic Medicine.

A few of Dr. Whiffen’s research interests included heparin on colloidal graphite surfaces, cardiovascular prostheses, myocardial revascularization. He founded the Bio-Medical Engineering Center. He served as Assistant Dean, VA Hospital Clinical Affairs and Chief of Staff at the VA Hospital from 1975-97. Additionally, he served as the Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the UW Medical School. These appointments not only highlighted his abilities as a surgeon and original thinker, but it highlighted Dr. Whiffen’s leadership abilities in nearly every effort he undertook. He was Professor Emeritus from 1997 – 2013. He married his high school sweetheart Sally Vilas (Van Sicklen) (Runge) on August 18, 1993.

Jim won his age class in the Mad City Half Marathon in 1998 and 2001 and the Whistle Stop Half Marathon in 2001. He was a versatile runner winning his age class at all distances like the Independence 10K Run and the 2004 Crazylegs Classic race. He was the fastest guy over 70 in the 500 yard Dash at the Badger State Games. Jim was a fisherman and a sailor. He was an avid follower of the Badgers football and basketball teams for over 50 years. He enjoyed wild places and planted many trees over his lifetime. His cabin on Ballard Lake was his joy. Jim enjoyed following the U.S. Space program, particularly his Son’s role in it.

He is survived by his wife Sally Whiffen of Madison WI; sister Jean (Richard) Meyer of Tampa, FL; brother John (Lucy) R Whiffen, MD of Malibu, CA; son Gregory J (Diane) Whiffen of Altadena, CA and their Children Benjamin Gregory and Ella Marie. Stepchildren Michael (Susan) Van Sicklen, Kate Van Sicklen, Elizabeth (Jay) King, Ford (Susan) Runge, Frederica (Gary) Freyberg. 12 Grandchildren and 1 Great.

There will be no service or visitation instead there will be a gathering for friends and family in remembrance of Dr. Jim Whiffen at the Maple Bluff Country Club at noon on Thursday January 24th. In lieu flowers, please donate to the Plum Lake Emergency Medical Service, P.O. Box 7, Sayner, WI 54560.