Dr. John E. Kesterson, age 94, passed away on Sunday, January 27, 2013. He was a practicing Surgeon in the Knoxville area, recently honored for more than 50 years of service by the Knoxville Academy of Medicine. He was a member of New Covenant Presbyterian Church, a member of Cherokee Lodge #728 where he served as a 33rd Degree Mason and Scottish Rite.
Dr. Kesterson graduated Vanderbilt Medical School at the age of 19 by attending year round, earning his place among the Canby-Robinson Society, an honor given to him by graduating first in his class. He completed his medical internship in March, 1943. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and served as chief of anesthesiology for the 114th General Hospital stationed in Midlands, England, on the Severn River. As chief anesthetist, he performed more than 6,000 anesthetics on wounded soldiers.
After the war, he returned to Knoxville and opened a general surgical practice and worked the surgery rooms in Knoxville General (then a hospital for indigents), Baptist Regional Medical Center, Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, St. Mary’s Health System and UT Medical Center. He retired in 1988 but continued to practice and consult with patients at Lakeshore Mental Health Institute.
He pioneered many surgical procedures and taught his procedures to other surgeons in the region. He was a supporter of the Knoxville Symphony League, Opera Guild, U.T. School of Music, served on the Knoxville Opera Board of Directors and the Cumberland County Playhouse Board of Directors, as well as a host of other community efforts. He was an avid fan of U.T. basketball and football.
Preceded in death by wife, Martha Inell Kesterson; parents, Charles and Bess Kesterson; brothers, David Kesterson and Edwin Porter Kesterson; and nephew, Charles Kesterson. Survivors include daughters, Martha and husband Sylvere Coussement and Karen and husband Mark Milani; brother, Jeff Kesterson; nieces, Lynn Kesterson Townes, Kim Kesterson, and Virginia Dale Gass; and nephew, Tom Kesterson.
The family wishes to extend a very special thank you to Ashley Gibbs, caregiver to Dr. Kesterson, Shannondale Retirement Center, Assisted Living Center, and Nursing Home staff. A graveside service will be conducted in Highland Memorial Cemetery, 5315 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919, on Thursday, January 31, 2013, at 12:00 p.m., Rev. Pete Preston officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to U.T. Medical Center C/O Office of Development 124 Alcoa Highway, Knoxville, TN 37920.