R. Don Blim (1927-2020)
Richard Don Blim, M.D. passed away at age 92 from natural causes on May 11, 2020 at the Tallgrass Creek retirement community in Overland Park. Predeceased in 2011 by Myrle Blim, his wife of nearly 60 years, he is survived by his children -- two sons, Rick and John, and his daughter, Carol Kelly -- as well as seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and one great-grandchild on the way. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages contributions to the University of Kansas Institute for Neurological Discoveries.
Don lived his entire life in the metropolitan area, graduating from Southwest High School and, after an interruption for a two-year stint in the Army serving in the South Pacific, the University of Kansas. He then attended KU’s medical school and began what became a 33-year career in private practice as a pediatrician. During those years, Don was named the medical school’s Distinguished Alumnus of 1978, was elected President of the American Academy of Pediatrics (1980-81), and was elected to what is now known as the National Academy of Medicine in 1983. Retiring from private practice in 1989, he served as Director of Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer at Saint Luke’s Hospital for a decade before retiring in 1999.
Post-retirement, Don continued involvement in organized medicine with roles on the boards of several organizations. He also did volunteer work, teaching a class in health to inner-city fifth graders for several years. On the personal front, Myrle and Don enjoyed life in their house near Loch Lloyd, having moved south from Shawnee Mission a few years earlier. Their spacious yard gave Myrle’s beloved German Shepherd Dogs room to roam, and Don spent as much of his time playing golf and tennis as he could. Their 50th wedding anniversary in 2002 took them on one of their very rare vacations alone, spending ten or so days in Hawaii. For the last six or so years of Myrle’s life, her health declined precipitously with cardiac and respiratory problems and especially with advancing Alzheimer’s. They moved to Tallgrass Creek where Myrle and Don happily spent the last three years of her life. For the last eight and a half years, Don continued to enjoy his life at Tallgrass Creek, playing bridge and forming new friendships while keeping up with old friends and colleagues. He participated in the American Academy of Pediatrics Past Presidents conference calls right up until last year, and he hosted annual luncheons for nurses and staff from his former pediatric practice.
As had always been the case, his family gave Don his greatest pleasure during retirement. Both before and after Myrle’s death, he presided over innumerable family brunches, lunches, and dinners. He spent much of his time with his grandchildren – going to the symphony, playing tennis and every other sort of game, attending their figure skating shows and theater performances. Although Don had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the 1950s, for some sixty years, he persevered through the episodes of severe pain, exhaustion, and other problems it created, counting himself lucky that it always went into remission after some weeks or months. But in 2012, his condition finally advanced to a stage from which there would be no remission, and he knew his muscles would continue to gradually weaken. Nonetheless, working his way through a progression of cane, walker, electric scooter, and motorized wheelchair, Don continued to be active at Tallgrass, attending various movies, bridge tournaments and festive meals there.
In the summer of 2017, Don corralled virtually the entire clan for the last of the family’s most enduring traditions, a week on Lake Vermillion near Cook, Minnesota, the locale of some of Myrle’s earliest years and her favorite childhood stories. The family had been going to the lake for most of the sixty preceding years. And that year, in his scooter on the dock, Don oversaw wonderful days of water skiing, swimming, sunbathing, and game playing. The trip culminated in a celebratory and laughter-filled dinner with each member of the family speaking in turn, recounting favorite memories of time with Don. Unsurprisingly, many of those memories were rooted in time spent on that very spot by Lake Vermillion. And fittingly, Don’s and Myrle’s ashes, together, will soon be spread on its shore.
To send flowers to R.'s family, please visit our floral store.