Panama City Neurosurgeon Merle Preston Stringer passed away at his home on November 1 after a long illness. Dr. Stringer was a member of the State of Florida Board of Medicine, a past member of Bay Medical Center Board of Directors, the Board of Directors of Gulf Coast Hospital and the founding President of the Bay Medical Foundation. Dr. Stringer also chaired various professional and oversight committees at each of Panama City’s hospitals. Prior to his illness Dr. Stringer practiced medicine with his identical twin brother Dr. Doug Stringer. The brothers were well known for never turning away a patient in need for want of insurance or financial ability and for their career long commitment of maintaining their availability to patients every day at any hour.
Merle Stringer was born on April 30, 1942 to Isabel Hendricks Stringer and Merle Preston Stringer in Wichita Falls, Texas. For a number of years, the family lived in what was then the American Canal Zone in Panama, where Dr. Stringer gained fluency in Spanish. A graduate of Richmond Academy in Augusta, Georgia, Dr. Stringer was awarded a full engineering scholarship to Georgia Tech. While enrolled as an engineering student he made the fateful decision to change course and pursue a career in medicine. He was a graduate of the Medical College at the University of Georgia, completed residency at the University of Maryland and fellowships at University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario where he served under the internationally renowned Dr. Charles Drake and at Queens Square University in London, England. Following University, Residency and Fellowships, Dr. Stringer entered the United States Navy and was stationed at the Naval Air Station at Jacksonville, Florida where he rose in rank to Lt. Commander. Dr. Stringer entered private practice in Asheville, North Carolina before moving his practice to Panama City at the urging of Dr. Greg Bruce in 1981.
Dr. Stringer and wife Christine were married at Augusta, Ga. in 1968 and there began a fifty-year partnership dedicated to family, profession, and community. Together they helped create and grow the Bay Medical Foundation, activity supported the Bay Arts community and its various organizations, and were distinguished for the contribution they made as oenologists and gourmets to the furtherance of fine dining in Northern Florida. The Stringers formed the Northwest Baillage of the Chaîne des Rôtissuers, which Mrs. Stringer served as its founding Bailli, and Dr. Stringer as its Conseiller Gastromique. Dr. Stringer was also an active member of the group’s national governing counsel. Together they were among the founding supporters of the Gulf Coast Community College Culinary Foundation.
Dr. Stringer is survived by his wife, Christine, brother Dr. Doug Stringer and wife Dottie, sister Doris Either of Augusta Georgia, Daughter Nicole and her husband Bo Rivard, son Kevin and grandchildren Kassidy and Devyn Stringer and Walker, Duncan and Sabrina Rivard and nieces and nephews Dr. Karin Maddox, Brian and Thomas Stringer and Aletha Baker.
Services for Dr. Stringer will be held at St. John’s the Evangelist Catholic Church at 1008 Fortune Avenue, Panama City at 11 am on Tuesday, November 5. In matters of faith Dr. Stringer was a lifelong congregant of the Roman Catholic Church and was a member of the Christian Order of the Equestrian of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. Arrangements are being made by Kent-Forest Funeral Home. Contributions in honor of Dr. Stringer to the Gulf Coast State College Culinary Foundation by contacting Ms. Margie Mazure at 950-872-3812.