Physician George Farha, co-founder of Wichita Surgical Group, dies at 86

01/09/2014 7:01 PM

01/09/2014 7:01 PM

One of Wichita’s most prominent doctors died Tuesday.

Dr. George J. Farha was co-founder of the Wichita Surgical Group, which later evolved into Wichita Surgical Specialists. He also was a champion of having Wichita as a regional medical hub. Dr. Farha was 86.

“Anymore, there aren’t the health-care giants like there was once,” said Alex Ammar, a physician nephew who now leads Wichita Surgical Specialists. “But if you had to pick one physician who had the greatest impact on health care in this city over the last 50 to 60 years, it would be him.

“He was an excellent surgeon and educator, and he was always instrumental in the community and with his church. He was a philanthropist who participated on lots of boards and his opinion was sought out on multiple levels.”

Ammar remembers his uncle as a mentor to hundreds of medical students and surgery residents. But he also remembers his uncle – whom patients and friends affectionately called “Dr. George” – as the godfather of the Farha family.

“People all respected him,” he said.

Trisagion will be at 7 p.m. Friday with a funeral at 10 a.m. Saturday, both at St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral, 7515 E. 13th St. Burial will be at Kensington Gardens.

Dr. Farha was born Sept. 20, 1927, in Marjayoun, Lebanon, and came to America in 1950 to attend college and medical school. He founded Wichita Surgical Specialists, P.A. in 1963. It soon became one of the largest independent surgical groups in the nation. He chaired its board until 1998.

He was a founder of the KU School of Medicine-Wichita in 1971, according to school officials, and served as the first chair of the school’s surgery department. He taught there for more than three decades.

In 2013, Dr. Farha was the recipient of the “Man of the Year” award presented by the Antiochian Heritage Foundation. He served as a board member of the International Orthodox Christian Charity.

Among his philanthropy was Wichita State University.

“Dr. George was an icon for our community,” said Elizabeth King, president and CEO of the Wichita State University Foundation. “He epitomized what the Great American Dream was all about. And he did it in Wichita, Kansas.”

“He was stern as father, but he was also kind and loving,” said Gayle Malone, one of Dr. Farha’s four daughters. “He was a mentor to us.

“He always said Wichita has been good to him, so he always gave back to Wichita. His gracious nature taught us to be good people.”

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established at St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral.

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