NEW CANAAN, Conn. – Dr. James Francis Guthrie of Ridgefield, formerly of New Canaan, died June 8 at Norwalk Hospital. He was 81.
Guthrie was born Sept. 19, 1930, in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Sophie Marino and Walter Guthrie. After graduating from Brooklyn Preparatory School, he went on to major in history at Villanova College.
He was drafted into the Army after graduating from college and served in Korea as sergeant major of the 224th Combat Infantry Regiment. He was awarded numerous commendations, including a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
Following his discharge in 1954, Guthrie worked as an executive trainee and buyer at Macy's in San Francisco. A year later, despite being accepted at Harvard Business School, he decided to go into medicine.
Guthrie attended New York University medical school and graduated in 1961. He completed his surgical residency at Bellevue Hospital, where he met his wife, Sandy. Guthrie served as chief of surgery at Raritan Valley Hospital in New Jersey from 1966 to 1972 and was the first medical director of Rutgers Medical School.
After successfully practicing as a general surgeon, Guthrie decided to become a colon and rectal surgeon. He established a practice in Norwalk, becoming the first colorectal surgeon in southern Connecticut.
An attending surgeon at Norwalk Hospital for more than 36 years, Guthrie served as chief of colon and rectal surgery for much of that tenure. He was a member of the Norwalk Hospital board of trustees from 1986 to 1992 and served on the Norwalk Hospital Foundation's Board of Directors from 1991 until his death.
He was awarded the Department of Surgery Distinguished Service Award in 1991 and the William J. Tracey, M.D., Award in 1993 for his philanthropic leadership.
Guthrie created several chairs in colorectal surgery at leading universities and helped raise funds for the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons Research Foundation. He served as president of the New England Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons and the Norwalk Medical Society.
In 2008, he received the first Paul K. Maloney Jr., M.D., Distinguished Service Award by the Connecticut State Medical Society. At Norwalk Hospital, Guthrie and the late Dr. Maloney, his close friend, founded the Irish Brigade, an informal marching and chowder society that hosted an annual event to build collegiality.
He is survived by a daughter, Camille (Kelly Shackelford) Guthrie, of New Canaan; three sons, James (Piya) Guthrie, of Houston, Durkin (Karen) Guthrie, of Los Angeles, and Jefferson Guthrie of Ridgefield; and three grandsons. He was predeceased by his wife, Sandy, and a sister, Camille Guthrie.
A Mass was celebrated Monday at St. Aloysius Church, followed by private burial. Kane Funeral Home in Ridgefield handled arrangements.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Norwalk Hospital Foundation, 34 Maple St., Norwalk, CT 06856.