James Frederick Panzer was born July 2, 1940, to Veta Premer Panzer and Dr. Harold J. Panzer in Omaha, Nebraska. His parents were both medical professionals in Bassett, Nebraska, and he was named after his maternal grandfather, Dr. James Frederick Premer, of Benkelman, Nebraska. His parents met at Methodist Hospital in Omaha where his father was an intern and his mother was a nurse. At a young age he was involved in hunting, fishing, carpentry, chemistry, photography, trapping, and gardening. He attended Rock County High School and graduated in 1958. His sports in high school were basketball, football, and track. He attended the University of Nebraska Lincoln on a Regents Scholarship, as did his close friend Bill Buckendorf. At Nebraska he was a member of the freshman honorary Phi Eta Sigma and the premedical fraternity Theta Nu. He also joined Alpha Tau Omega, a social fraternity and was president his junior year.
In 1961 he began medical school in Omaha at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). He joined the Phi Chi medical fraternity his freshman year and was elected into Phi Beta Kappa, a college of arts and sciences honorary, that fall. He was elected into Alpha Omega Alpha, a medical school honorary, and was senior class president. He graduated in June 1965.
He met Maureen Higgins in 1961 and they married in 1964. Four children were born to this union: Jill Anne, Jon Thomas, Joel Steven, and Jerry David. After medical internship from 1965 to 1966 he became a resident in surgery at UNMC, completing his education in 1968. He then became an army surgeon until June 1972 and was stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. During his tour he completed surgery boards and was certified in surgery. He was recertified in 1982 and 1992. He joined Dr. Tom Wallace in the practice of surgery in Gordon and Chadron and this partnership endured until Dr Wallace’s death in 1988. He was inducted into the American College of Surgeons in 1974 and became a Fellow. He also became a member of the Southwest Surgical Congress and Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons. He had medical licenses in Missouri, South Dakota, Alaska, and Nebraska. He retired June 2002 after 37 years of practice, 30 of which were in Gordon and Chadron. He continued to hunt and fish as long as he was able and found many friends with whom to play bridge.
He died on July 28, 2019, at the age of 79. He is survived by Maureen, Jill (husband Jeb Livingood), Jon (wife Jill), Fr. Joel, and was preceeded in death by his parents and son Jerry (wife TJ). He is also survived by Jill’s children, Sam and Eve, and Jon’s children, Jackson, Joslyn, and Alex. His brother John lives in Bassett. His brother Bob Panzer and wife Patty live in Lincoln. Cousin Bob Panzer lives in California and cousin Ilene lives in Missouri. Many other nieces and nephews also survive. He is survived by stepmothers JoAnn Panzer Anderson and Mary Lou Panzer.
There will be a Vigil Mass on Friday, August 9, 2019, 7 p.m. at St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Gordon, and a Funeral Mass on August 10, 10 a.m., also at St. Leo’s. Interment will be at the Gordon Cemetery.
A memory has been established for the Gordon Memorial Hospital and donations may be sent to Chamberlain-Pier Funeral Home, PO Box 366 Gordon, NE 69343.