In Memory

William Ishmael

William Ishmael


COOKSON – Dr. William E. “Bill” Ishmael passed away at the family home on Lake Tenkiller on Jan. 30, 2015. He was a bright and compassionate soul, a loving family man, and a whole lot of fun.

Born July 23, 1942, his insatiable thirst for knowledge was perhaps unavoidable. While growing up in Oklahoma City, he was fascinated by his grandfather, the first board certified orthopedic surgeon west of the Mississippi, Dr. Earl McBride, and joyfully recounted observing his surgeries as a boy. Likewise, he cherished his father, celebrated internist Dr. William K. Ishmael – frequently tagging along with him at the hospital and OU’s College Of Medicine. Ultimately, Bill Ishmael became the final installment in a generational trilogy of gifted medical minds.


At Oklahoma City University he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Zoology in 1964. He graduated as a Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Tennessee in Memphis in the tumultuous year of 1968. His rotation through Memphis’ Gaston Charity Hospital included National Guard transport through rioting after Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination there. He finished a multidisciplinary medical residency at Oklahoma City’s St. Anthony’s hospital in 1972.

Dr. Ishmael’s varied career exemplified his curious mind. He served as a professor for the University of Oklahoma College of Health Sciences, the National University of Mexico, Oral Robert’s University College of Dentistry, and helped establish the School of Dental Hygiene at Tulsa Junior College. He lectured and published nationally and internationally. He was proud to have founded a scientific roundtable examining the health and lifestyle of Mexico’s Indigenous Tarahumara people, and being honored as a visiting clinician and lecturer at Guy’s Hospital in London and the International Congress of Dentistry in Mexico City. Always, he sought so serve the underserved. He was elected to the American Academy of Dentistry for the Handicapped and the American Academy of Dentistry of Geriatric Dentistry. In public practice, he assisted Oklahoma for over a decade, aiming to improve care for the states mentally and physically ill patients as its Director of Dental Services. In private practice, he pioneered mobile dentistry and the provision of on-site care to homebound and nursing home patients. His bedside manner was legend.

His private pursuits were many. He skied the Alps, cheered bullfights in Spain, waterskied at night, navigated Latin America’s jungles, bartered in Morocco, and otherwise sought out adventure. Dr. Ishmael voraciously read and compulsively wrote about science, religion, language and history – the volume of highlighters and pens depleted in his 72 years cannot be exaggerated. Oklahoma’s Cookson Hills and Lake Tenkiller were dear to him, and will serve as a fitting resting place for this high flying soul.

He leaves behind a large and loving family. His sons and daughters-in-law Tripp and Kelly and Todd and Haydon Ishmael and those son’s mother, Penny Ishmael, of Tulsa mourn his loss. So too does his youngest son and his wife, Thomas and Michelle Ishmael; and his mother, Carron (Clote) McKenna of Oklahoma City. He also leaves five cherished grandchildren, Kelsey, Madysen, Henry, Gretchen, Jewele and William, who will miss his tendency to play with fireworks, ability to tell a great story, and habitual optimism. Many more family and friends will miss him too.

A memorial service commemorating his life is scheduled for 2 p.m., Feb. 6, at Cookson United Methodist Church in Cookson. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Methodist Boys Ranch c/o the Cookson United Methodist Church.


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02/17/15 04:33 PM #1    

Judy Johnson (Ruby Brown)

I am so sad to hear about Bill Ishmael.  I knew him from the 4th grade at Nichols Hills on.  I used to walk by his house on the way back from school.  I remember he was excellent in the broad jump.  I must be having a senior moment going back to grade school.  A fine person who will be greatly missed.

02/18/15 10:30 AM #2    

Connie Beasley (Sheridan)

I remember Bill when we were in Miss Miller's last period study hall together at Harding.  Bill, Ellen Hesson(also deceased) and I had such fun doing homework, laughing, and enjoying each other's company while under the careful eye of Miss Miller.  He was such a nice young man and I am so sorry to hear of his passing.

02/18/15 01:41 PM #3    

Barry Longmire

I'm so sorry to hear about Bill.  We were friends from our days at Nichols Hills elementry school (Mrs. Hood's class and earlier)  I don't remember seeing Bill at any of the Harding reunions Carol and I attended and would be interested in hearing from anyone who had recent contact with Bill.

02/20/15 08:56 AM #4    

Jacqueline Hamilton (Taylor)

I was very sorry to hear about Bill Ishmael's death.  He was a real friend when we were in high school!  I have fond memories of him.  Jacqueline Hamilton Taylor

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