Daughter Continues Father's Tradition of Supporting the White Coat

July 26, 2017
Posted in White Coat

Mrs. Helen Harwood is the daughter of Dr. Charles Rankin Zirkle, VUSM Class of 1941. Dr. Zirkle was a highly regarded surgeon in the Knoxville area, who supported the White Coat program from 2002 through 2011. He passed away in 2012 and Helen continues to be a sponsor in his memory each year. We reached out to Helen to share a few words with us about her father. 


"A few words" is a hard task for me when it comes to talking about Dad, Dr. Charles Rankin Zirkle, when he was a man of few words himself. He absolutely loved his career as a physician. He was proud to be a general surgeon. I loved having him as my Dad. I actually started my life in Nashville. We lived right down the street from Vanderbilt at Harding Place. Dad and Mom would take me to the Centennial Park pond to feed the ducks, and we repeated that visit with my eldest daughter about 30 years later. (photo above


My two brothers and I grew up in Knoxville. My brother, Kevin, was a graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, following in Dad’s footsteps. I do not know when Dad started the White Coat gifting, but I have continued to give in his memory. He passed away January 23, 2012. Near the end of his life I discussed the gift with him, and he said that he knew the coat would be appreciated if I wanted to continue. Now I anticipate the letter I receive each year from the recipient and enjoy following their medical travels. One day I hope to attend the ceremony when the coats are presented to the new students.