Longtime UM/Jackson Physician Passes Away

A physician who spent more than three decades on the UM/Jackson medical campus, dating back to her days as a Miller School medical student, has died at the age of 56. Catherine Willis, M.D., passed away Tuesday, November 16, after a brief illness.

Dr. Willis graduated from medical school in 1982 and did her residency in internal medicine at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

“Dr. Willis was an outstanding resident and earned the respect of the faculty and house staff and was chosen to receive the singular honor of being elected chief resident,” remembers Laurence Gardner, M.D., who was vice chair of medicine at the time. “She served in her position with great distinction.”

After her residency, Dr. Willis became a member of the teaching faculty at Jackson Memorial with clinical adjunct faculty appointments in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. She was an attending physician in Jackson’s General Medicine Clinic and Urgent Care Center and directed the Family Medicine Adult In-patient Unit at Jackson. Most recently she served as a hospitalist on the in-patient team for family medicine.

Over the course of her quarter-century career at UM/Jackson, Dr. Willis taught and supervised hundreds of residents and medical students.

“Dr. Willis was an outstanding teacher to our family medicine residents — she took their education very seriously and was dedicated to helping them become the best possible physicians they could be,” said Robert Schwartz, M.D., professor and chair of family medicine. “She was also a truly dedicated physician and role model, always putting the well-being of her patients first. Her death is a great loss to our program, the hospital and the Miller School of Medicine.”

Dr. Willis was born in Port Chester, New York, but grew up in Fort Lauderdale. She was preceded in death by her father Vincent and her brother Vinnie and is survived by her husband, Dr. George Willis, a retired UM/Jackson faculty member, her mother, Mary DiLeo of Port St. Lucie, Florida, a sister, Carmela Ludwick of Virginia, two nieces, Sarah and Lauren Ludwick, and a nephew, Ethan Ludwick.

Her family is establishing an educational library in her memory. If you are interested in learning more about the library or contributing to its creation, contact the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at 305-243-1242.

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