Charles Lamar Pifer

Charles Lamar Pifer, 88, died peacefully on February 14, with his wife, Judith, by his side in their home in Carmel-by-the Sea, Ca.

Charley was born on December 29, 1929, to Jack and Lillian Pifer of DuBois, PA.

Charley graduated from Penn State in 1951, having worked his way through college with summer jobs ranging from short order cook to telephone pole repair. He joined the Army Reserve in 1953. He earned an MS in Chemistry from Bucknell University in 1952, and his MD from the University of Pittsburgh in 1956. In August 1953, he married Myra Lee May, they were married 31 years until their divorce in 1984

Charley served in the US Army Medical Corps from 1956 to 1964. He completed his medical residency at Hines VA Hospital, then a hematology fellowship at the Hektoen Institute of Cook County Hospital, both in Chicago. He served at Ft. Sam Houston TX, Ft. Hood, TX, and Fitzsimmons Army Hospital, Denver, where he was Chief of General Medical Service. He commanded the 11th Evacuation Hospital in Pusan Korea from 1961 to 1962, receiving the “Medal of the City of Pusan” from South Korean President Park Chung-hee for the work of his team in putting down a cholera epidemic.

In 1964, he entered private practice, first in Ft. Dodge, IA, before moving to Walnut Creek, CA, where he practiced oncology, on the staffs of both John Muir and Mt. Diablo Hospitals, until his retirement in 1994. He founded the first Regional Cancer Center in the San Francisco Bay Area, and served as its first Director.

In 1991, he married his beloved wife Judith Sutter. Charley and Judy split their time between Carmel and Magalia, CA, where they enjoyed their mountain cabin. He was an instrument-rated private pilot, and enjoyed flying through out the West, Canada, and Mexico. He had a love of art and antiques that started as a boy collecting Indian arrowheads in the woods of Pennsylvania. Of course, he was also a devoted Steelers fan.

In Carmel Charley started a second career, as an artist. Until his death, he painted almost daily, winning several juried awards and participating in shows and exhibitions (see He and his wife are active members of Carmel Presbyterian Church.

Charley will always be loved and remembered for his intellect, his humor and his compassion. He was a sharp observer of human nature. He was helpful and loving to others, and ever the doctor to any friend in need. He loved his country and had firm opinions, as reflected by his ongoing letters to the editors of the Monterey Peninsula newspapers.

Charley was preceded in death by his brothers Bill and John (Skip). He is survived by his cherished wife Judy; his son Philip (Joan) Pifer of Great Falls, VA; his daughters Janine (Will) Pifer-Schwartz of Cloverdale, OR, and Melissa (Fred Goodall) Pifer of Suisun City, CA; and his granddaughters Jacqueline Pifer and Rebecca Pifer; as well as step-children; Curt Sutter, Noel Sutter, and Giselle Sutter-Sponholtz and their families.

He had requested “A Living Memorial.” He wanted to spend “quality time,” while he was feeling okay, with close friends and family. Two weeks before his death, arrangements were made, and the families, including all his grandkids, came to Carmel to share their memories, laughter, tears, and love. God is merciful and wonderful and blessed all. Soli Deo Gloria.

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