CALVIN H. THIGPEN SR.
Dr. Calvin Herritage Thigpen, Sr. of 19801 Oakland Avenue, South Chesterfield, Va., departed this life Saturday, January 7, 2017. He was born January 7, 1924, in Greenville, N.C., to Carrie Wilkins Thigpen and Zeno Thigpen.
He graduated from Henderson Institute High School, Henderson, N.C., in 1939 at the age of 15, and shortly thereafter, enrolled in a plumber’s apprentice program at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. World War II cut short his plumbing career; however, Dr. Thigpen now 18, found himself in the U.S. Army basic training at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. He remained at Aberdeen until recommended by his commanding officer for Officer Candidate School (OCS). He successfully completed OCS training at Fort Benning, Ga., and served as a commissioned officer in the Infantry for five years at a variety of stateside and overseas assignments.
Dr. Thigpen was married to Vera Crawford Thigpen on December 25, 1948. To this union two children were born, Calvin H. Thigpen, Jr. and Vera Karen Thigpen. In 1949, Thigpen was discharged from the Army as a First Lieutenant. He returned back to Norfolk to resume his work at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard; however finding a job proved to be much more difficult than Dr. Thigpen had imagined.
It was then, he decided to enroll at Virginia State College (University). Dr. Thigpen received his B.S. Degree in Chemistry with distinction in 1953. His first post-college position was a teacher in Hopewell Public School System, where he remained from 1953 to 1958. “That was an exciting time for him and his wife.” They were among just a handful of Black professionals working in the Hopewell area. Teaching ultimately caused him to go to medical school.
He soon went on to the University of Virginia, where he obtained his Medical Degree in 1962. He began his internship at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Va. A year later, he opened a private practice in the City of Petersburg that flourished for over 30 years.
The success experienced in the medical profession motivated Dr. Thigpen to try his hand in the legal profession. In 1974, he went back to the University of Virginia to earn his Jurisprudece Degree. From 1974 to 1988, he practiced both law and medicine at the same time at the same address as the medical office. Since doctors and lawyers work from appointments, there was never a problem. There were occasions when he had to reschedule an appointment to be present in court; however that never really hampered his practice.
During his distinguished dual career, Dr. Thigpen has garnered a number of awards and appointments. He was elected both a “fellow” and a “diplomate” in the American College of Legal Medicine (an honor accorded few medical professionals.) He served on the Board of Visitors at Virginia State University. He also served two terms as Vice Chief of Staff and two terms as Chief of Staff at Petersburg General Hospital (Southside Regional Medical Center). He was President of the Petersburg Bar Association. Dr. Thigpen was listed in Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, and in the Dictionary of International Biography.
He was a member of the Sigma Pi Sigma National Physics Honor Society, Beta Kappa Chi National Scientific Honor Society, the Phi Delta Phil Legal Fraternity and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Vera Crawford Thigpen; parents, Carrie Wilkins Thigpen and Zeno Thigpen, Sr.; siblings, Zeno Thigpen, Jr., Leland Thigpen, and Hilda Kemp.
Dr. Thigpen leaves to cherish his legacy, his children, Calvin H. Thigpen, Jr. of Richmond, Va., and Vera Gottschalk (Richard) of Petersburg, Va.; a devoted family friend, Joan Hopkins of Richmond, Va.; grandchildren, Calvin H. Thigpen III and Shelby H. Haskins; two great grandchildren, Madisyn D. Thigpen and Miles P. Haskins; and a host other relatives, friends, colleagues and acquaintances too numerous to name.
Services for Dr. Calvin H. Thigpen, Sr. will be held at 12 noon Saturday, January 14, 2017, at St. Stephens Episcopal Church, 228 Halifax Street, Petersburg, Va., the Rev. Willis R. Foster, Rector. Interment to following at Blandford Cemetery.
The family will receive friends from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, January 13, 2017, at the funeral establishment.
Family members and friends are invited to pay final tribute to Dr. Thigpen at www.jmwilkersonsince1874.com.
Funeral arrangements entrusted to the staff of the J. M. Wilkerson Funeral Establishment, Inc., 102 South Avenue, Petersburg, Va., (804)732-8911, www. jmwilkersonsince1874.com.