NEENAH — Colleagues of Dr. Jeffrey Whiteside say they've lost a "good friend, colleague and outstanding physician leader." Door County sheriff’s officials announced Thursday afternoon that Whiteside's body was found near Ephraim one day earlier.
The 63-year-old Whiteside was a pulmonologist in the Fox Cities for 30 years. He was last seen June 29. Investigators have not released a cause of death.
Whiteside worked with thousands of colleagues and patients over the years, including Jan Rutten of Freedom.
“He saved my life," said Rutten. "I wish there was something I could have done to have saved his. He was patient and positive and understanding and caring.”
Since Dr. Whiteside disappeared, Rutten was clinging to hope. She first talked to FOX 11 two weeks ago.
“Praying for him every day," she said. "Every single day.”
She first met her beloved doctor two years ago. He diagnosed her with lung cancer.
“Busy guy, but he loved what he was doing and he loved helping people," she said. And that’s why I wish there was something I could have done to have helped him back. Because I feel like I owe him eternally forever for saving my life.”
Rutten hopes Whiteside didn’t suffer before he died.
“I can’t imagine what his wife and family are going through," she said. "I know everybody has lots of questions, and we just have to wait and see what the answers are to those questions, if there ever are any answers to them.”
A statement from Whiteside's practice, Fox Valley Pulmonary Medicine in Appleton, reads:
"All of us at Fox Valley Pulmonary Medicine are saddened to hear the news of Dr. Jeffrey Whiteside’s death. Our thoughts remain with Dr. Whiteside’s family, friends, colleagues and the many patients who’s lives he touched over his long career.
This has been a difficult ordeal for all involved.
Out of respect for the Whiteside family’s privacy we will not be making any further comments at this time."
A statement from Dean Gruner, president and CEO of ThedaCare, reads:
"Today, the ThedaCare Board of Trustees and our hospital leadership lost a good friend, colleague and outstanding physician leader, Dr. Jeffrey Whiteside.
I have worked with Jeff for 32 years in both patient care and as a leader for our Fox Cities hospitals and for ThedaCare. In that span, I got to know Jeff personally and professionally. I cannot express how much he and his dedication, smile and support will be dearly missed by all of us.
We and the entire ThedaCare family extend our sympathies and prayers to the Whiteside family, their friends, patients and all of us who knew him as colleagues."
Authorities say a K-9 search team found human remains in the Town of Liberty Grove Wednesday at 12:20 p.m. near some trees in an uninhabited area. Investigators say clothing and personal items found with the remains lead them to believe the body is that of Dr. Whiteside.
Whiteside used to be the president of the ThedaCare Hospital Medical Staff. He was in his third term on the ThedaCare Board of Trustees.