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Dr. Philip John Keizer, Sr., a lifetime North Bend resident, and well-known surgeon, beloved husband, father, and grandfather, died at home on October 13, 2023, at the age of 87. Phil had cardiac amyloidosis and died of a stroke.
Phil was born at Keizer Brothers Hospital in North Bend on April 24, 1936, to Dr. Ennis and Frances (Hoffman) Keizer. He went to grade school at St. Monica’s and was student body president of North Bend High School, Class of 1954. Phil graduated from the University of Notre Dame cum laude in 1958, with a Bachelor of Science in Pre-med. One week after graduating, Phil married Ann Pettersen, whom he had dated throughout his college years. They moved to Portland so Phil could attend medical school while Ann taught biology at Wilson High School. Following in the footsteps of his father, uncle, grandfather, and great uncle, Phil graduated from the University of Oregon School of Medicine (now Oregon Health and Science University) in 1962. While living in Portland, Phil and Ann’s first two children, P.J. and Lisa, were born. The family then moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, for his internship and surgical residency. During this time, their daughter, Clarice, was born.
Dr. Keizer went on to distinguish himself as a physician and general surgeon. One of his most important accomplishments was his original research on diagnostic peritoneal lavage (DPL), which became the staple in diagnosis of blunt abdominal trauma prior to the advent of the CT scan. This procedure saved untold lives worldwide. He was awarded the best scientific exhibit at the International College of Surgeons convention in Houston, TX, in 1966. DPL was the featured presentation for the opening session of the 1968 American College of Surgeons convention in San Francisco. He also carved a prototype artificial heart valve used in research, which later was developed for human patients.
The family returned to Coos Bay in 1967, where Dr. Keizer became the region’s first board certified surgeon. Their children, Karen and Teddy, were both born in North Bend, at the Keizer Brothers Hospital. Dr. Keizer practiced medicine with his father at the North Bend Medical Group, later renamed North Bend Medical Center (NBMC). Dr. Keizer was the fifth of seven physicians in his family to practice medicine in this community. In 1923, his great uncle, Dr. Phil Keizer, and his grandfather, Dr. Russell Keizer, built the Keizer Brothers Hospital in North Bend. His father, Dr. Ennis Keizer, and his uncle, Dr. John Keizer continued the tradition of practicing medicine in North Bend. In 1953, Dr. Ennis Keizer founded the North Bend Medical Group. Later Phil’s brother, Dr. Russell Keizer, and Phil’s son, Dr. P.J. Keizer, Jr. practiced in Coos Bay after the clinic was moved to its current location. Phil was proud of his role in helping establish the Bay Area Hospital (BAH), his work as building Chairman of the North Bend Medical Center in Coos Bay, and as the first physician to use a physician assistant in Oregon. At NBMC, where he practiced medicine for over 30 years, he created the first outpatient surgery center in the state of Oregon and second in the country. Dr. Keizer was the first to surgically repair an abdominal aortic aneurysm on the Oregon coast. He served as Chief of Staff at Keizer Memorial Hospital, Chief of Surgery at BAH, board member of NBMC, and President of the Southwestern Oregon Medical Society. Along with his service to the Coos Bay and North Bend community in the medical field, Dr. Keizer was an active member of the Coos Bay-North Bend Rotary Club and Holy Redeemer Catholic Church. He also served in the National Guard while in Minnesota and Oregon.
Phil may be most remembered as someone who could lighten any event with an entertaining story or a well-timed joke that would leave his audience, as well as himself, rolling in laughter. As an avid traveler, he visited 86 countries and 6 continents over the course of his life, from above the Arctic Circle to the tip of Cape Horn. A sixth generation Oregonian, he loved telling the story of the Keizer wagon train of 1843. The Keizer’s were the first to take wagons the entire way across the Oregon Trail, to ultimately found the town of Keizer. Phil was happiest at large family gatherings and spending time with his closest friends. He relaxed most days of his life by playing the piano, especially the blues, jazz, and his own compositions. His specialty was Boogie-woogie. He loved the outdoors, whether he was skiing the slopes of Mt. Bachelor, fly fishing at Ten Mile Lake, or salmon fishing in the ocean. As a teenager, Phil was the first to go barefoot waterskiing at Lakeside, and at a community event, Phil water skied across the Mingus Park pool, pulled by a rope attached to his jeep.
Dr. Keizer is survived by his wife of 65 years, Ann and five children: Dr. P.J. Keizer, wife, Elena Keizer, and grandchildren, Johnny, Julia, and Tommy of Coos Bay; Lisa LaGesse, husband, Dr. Phil LaGesse and grandchildren, Laura, Karen, and George of North Bend; Clarice Weeks, husband, Keith Weeks and granddaughters, Anna, Mara, and Ella of West Linn; Karen Thrift, husband, Scott Thrift and grandsons, Alexander and Charlie of Redwood City, CA; Teddy Keizer, wife, Ann Sulzer and grandchildren, Lincoln and Caroline of Portland. He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Dr. Russell Keizer; sister, Ann Engelcke; and granddaughter, Katherine Keizer.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 am, Saturday, October 28, 2023, at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, at 2250 16th Street, in North Bend, with Fr. Paschal Ezurike officiating. A Rosary will precede his funeral at 10:30 am and a reception will follow at the church hall. The family suggests contributions to the Coos Foundation, Inc, PO Box 1375, Coos Bay, Oregon 97420, a nonprofit founded by his father through Rotary to benefit local projects in the Coos Bay area.
Arrangements are under the care of Coos Bay Chapel, 541-267-3131. Family and friends are invited to sign the online guestbook at www.coosbayareafunerals.com