Dr. Erwin Thal, 78, of Dallas passed away on Saturday, December 13, 2014 at William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital UT-Southwestern in Dallas. He will be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend to all that knew and loved him. He was generous, kindhearted, sharp-witted, and had a huge heart. Erwin tenaciously rose above every adversity and challenge. He will be remembered for his practical jokes, sense of humor, unbridled energy and passion for teaching.
Erwin was born in Columbus, Ohio, on August 31, 1936, to Miriam and Nelson Thal. He was a proud graduate of The Ohio State University, receiving his undergraduate degree in 1958 and his doctor of medicine degree in 1962. As an undergraduate, he was the manager of the baseball, basketball, and two national championship football teams. Erwin completed his general surgery residency at Parkland Hospital in 1969, interrupted by two years of service in the United States Air Force as a flight medical officer. Prior to discharge, he was awarded the United States Air Force Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service. Upon completing his residency, Erwin joined the faculty at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School as an instructor of surgery. He was promoted to professor in 1982. From 1970 to 1994, he was in charge of the Surgical Emergency Room. In 1995, he was appointed medical director of the Day Surgery Unit at Parkland. Beginning in 1998, and lasting until his death, Erwin served as the director of the Willed Body Program at the UT Southwestern Medical School. Throughout his time at UT Southwestern, Erwin was honored with many appointments and recognitions for his long list of accomplishments. Standouts among these include an honorary fire chief appointment in 1985, chairman of the American College of Surgeons committee on trauma from 1986-1990, an honorary fellowship in the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, a place on the Giants of Parkland Surgery wall, and an Alumni Achievement Award from the Ohio State University College of Medicine, the 2000 Minnie Stevens Piper Professor award, and numerous Excellence in Teaching Awards from Southwestern Medical School.
Survivors include his son James Gordon Thal and his wife Rhonda Zamora Thal; daughter Barbara Thal Potts and her husband Steven William Potts; daughter in law Kathy Duran Thal; grandchildren Gordon Thal, J.R. and A.J. Thal, William and Carolyn Potts, Camille, Stephen and Alex Duran. His wife Carolyn Gordon Thal of 37 years and his son Jeffrey Lawrence Thal of 53 years precede him in death.
A Funeral Service will be at 1:00 pm on Tuesday, December 16, 2014 at Temple Shalom, 6930 Alpha Road, Dallas, TX 75240. The family will receive friends from 230 to 430 at Temple Shalom. Memorials may be made to the Dallas Chapter of the American Red Cross, UT Southwestern Department of Surgery Division of Trauma, or The Ohio State University-School of Medicine.