Ralph Powhatan Tharp II, MD, 79, of Houston, Texas passed away after a brief illness Wednesday, November 4, 2015. A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. on November 12th at Clear Lake United Methodist Church, 16335 El Camino Real, Houston, TX 77062.
Dr. Tharp was born August 2, 1936 in Louisville, Kentucky to Nellie and Ralph P. Tharp. After his father was transferred with the military to Colorado Springs, Colorado, the family settled in Alamosa, Colorado where Ralph graduated high school and subsequently earned a music scholarship to Adams State College. Ralph’s jazz band career was short-lived once he met Phyllis Marie Stacy of Monte Vista, Colorado. The two fell in love and eloped in 1956 to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Their early-married life took them around the country until Ralph decided to enroll at the University of Nebraska where he earned a B.S. in Pharmacy in 1962. With his interest in medicine piqued, Ralph was accepted into medical school at the University of Minnesota, and earned his medical degree in 1966. He completed his internship through Broadlawns Polk County Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa and then went into private practice in Apple Valley, Minnesota. Dr. Tharp has been continuously Board certified by the American Board of Family Practice since 1974. Dr. Tharp was also a Commissioned Officer (Captain) in the U.S. Army Reserve, receiving Honorable Discharge in 1971. In addition to his numerous preceptorships and guest lecturer positions at the University of Minnesota, University of Houston-Clear Lake and University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston, Dr. Tharp was the Director of the Family Practice Residency Program and Medical Co-Director of the Family Nurse Practitioner Program, both at the University of Alabama Medical School at Birmingham. Dr. Tharp and his family moved to Clear Lake City in 1977 where he began a thriving, private practice. In 1984, Dr. Tharp founded and served as Chairman and CEO of Bay Area Family Medical Center. In 1996, the group evolved into Texas Gulf Coast Medical Group where Dr. Tharp remained Board Chairman, President and Medical Director until his death. Dr. Tharp served with distinction on several healthcare related Boards and was an active member of numerous professional associations including the Texas Medical Association, The Texas Academy of Family Physicians, where he served as past President of the Galveston Chapter, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. He enjoyed golfing with his best friend, Huelett Norton, walking in the Minnesota woods, reading and cooking. Above all, his first and primary love was the practice of medicine. At the age of 79, he was still seeing patients and has treated as many as three generations of families in the Bay Area. He was a pillar of the Bay Area medical community and will be dearly missed by colleagues and patients alike. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Phyllis, his son Ralph P. Tharp III, daughters Gay Lynne Tharp, Joy Lee Tharp, Elizabeth Oldroyd Brown, son-in-law William Brown, and grandsons, Luke Oldroyd and John Oldroyd. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests an “In Memory” donation be made to one of Dr. Tharp’s favorite causes, The Wounded Warrior Project. Please visit them online at www.woundedwarriorproject.org or mail to The Wounded Warrior Project 2200 Space Park Drive, Suite 100 Houston, Texas 77058