John W. Shigeoka, M.D.

John W. Shigeoka, M.D.

April 25, 1946 – November 9, 2021

John W. Shigeoka, M.D. ( “Shig” or “Shigs”) passed away peacefully at his home on November 9, 2021 after a brief illness. He spent his final days with his daughters Megan and Katherine by his side, amusingly with the musical Hamilton playing continuously in the background. 

John was born in Philadelphia on April 25, 1946, to Hiroshi Shigeoka, M.D. and Dorothy Shigeoka, nee Arita. John had two younger sisters Roberta and Susan and is survived by Roberta. Photos of John’s early life show a vibrant boy in a loving family often on a bike and more often with a fishing pole. As a teenager he played guitar with a rock and roll trio, but academics got in the way of musical fame. John’s course as a scientist and public servant was etched early on. He earned admission to the Jefferson Medical School at Penn State. This highly competitive academic program allowed select undergraduate students to begin their medical education during their junior year. Here he met a fellow medical student, the love of his life, and future wife, Ann O’Neill. John and Ann married on July 4, 1971. Shortly after, John was deployed to the Vietnam War as a medical Naval officer.

After returning from Vietnam, John pursued additional training in pulmonology at the Naval Hospital in Oakland, California. John and Ann’s love of the outdoors and career opportunities brought them to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1976 where they settled and raised a family. Their passion for travel and adventure found them exploring the natural environment in their backyard and around the world. Their outdoor pursuits were complemented by an appreciation for classical music and fine arts. Sadly, Ann lost a fight with cancer far too young. John honored her memory and legacy with unwavering loyalty.

Caring for patients was John’s life work for over 50 years and continued until just weeks before his passing. Per his colleagues, John served the University of Utah and the VA with distinction. His many leadership positions at the VA included Chief of Pulmonary/Critical Care for over thirty plus years and interim Chief of Internal Medicine on several occasions. A superb clinician, John was incredibly dedicated to his patients. They revered him and only wanted to see “Dr. Shig.” His service to his country and its veterans was a hallmark of his character which was founded upon the principles of humility, empathy, and equality. A valued source of advice for colleagues, John was an esteemed mentor for pulmonary fellows, residents, students, and staff, whom he treated as peers and undoubtedly perplexed on occasion. 

John had a natural charm and a wonderful wit. Whether medicine, bird watching, or astronomy his intellectual curiosity was insatiable. He was soft spoken and dignified but also quick to share a smile and lend a hand. He was wise yet light-hearted, gracious, philanthropic, handsome, humorous, and humble. He cracked jokes and shared random facts to the very end. His spirit animal was the mountain goat and his favorite emoji the Vulcan salute. He was a father, brother, grandfather, and a gentleman of the highest order. He will be dearly missed by his family (Shigeokas, O’Neills, Vogels, and Stewards), friends, colleagues, community, and the many people whose lives he touched. A memorial will be held on Saturday December 4 at 11:00 am at City View Mortuary, 1001 East 11th Ave, Salt Lake City. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Utah Open Lands https://www.utahopenlands.org/donate. Live long and prosper.  

5 Comments
  • Jeff Scott
    Posted at 12:03h, 24 November Reply

    My condolences to the family. I used to be in a meeting with Dr. Shigeoka and always enjoyed his wit, his subtleness, his humility and how much he always cared about his patients. He was a great man, a great doc, and i bet a great father.

  • suzanne Stensaas
    Posted at 11:49h, 25 November Reply

    I appreciated John as a colleague as I served on committees with him at the University. His wry humor came at the best moments. I too share his love of the outdoors and have happily donated to Utah Open Lands through my fund. My sympathy to his daughters and family will be expressed in person on December 4, 2021.

  • Richard Kanner
    Posted at 12:40h, 25 November Reply

    Shig’s passing was a shock to me. I hadn’t seen him since the covid epidemic started but have known him since he first joined the Pulmonary Division in the mid 1970’s. He and Dave Scheinhorn ran the VA section of the Pulmonary Division. He was a very bright and caring physician and a true scholar. Always had a smile or mischievous grin on his face. Ann’s premature death was quite a blow but he carried on. He will be greatly missed. Things will not be the same without him.

  • Belle Karabatsos
    Posted at 08:38h, 26 November Reply

    I had the undeniable pleasure of meeting Dr. Shig in the early 2000’s. His wit and humor would light up our hearts with joy and laughter at the VA Medical Center. I certainly agree that his intellectual curiosity for the things he loved the most was insatiable! I know that the love for his family was immeasurable, as he always spoke so caringly about you all with an undeniable gleam in his eyes. You will be missed Dr. Shig – May your memory be eternal.

  • Lisa Porter
    Posted at 09:17h, 29 November Reply

    My condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones. It was an honor and a pleasure knowing and working with Shig. I am sorry for your loss.

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