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Dr. Gene F. Conway, born on August 24th, 1928, in Cynthiana, Kentucky, passed away peacefully on Sunday, October 29, 2023 surrounded by his devoted family. The son of Cora Jane Hall Conway and F. Lee Conway, Gene's early years were shaped in Flemingsburg, Kentucky, where he excelled academically and athletically, serving as the Captain of the Basketball team at Fleming County High School. In 1950, he married his high school sweetheart, Dorothy Jean Williams, having proposed marriage on their first date and every date thereafter. After several moves to further educational and professional pursuits Gene and Jean ultimately established their family home in Georgetown, Ohio, where they have resided for nearly half a century.
Dr. Conway is survived by his devoted wife of 73 years and leaves behind a legacy carried forward by three daughters—the Honorable Lisa Allen Beebe, J.D. (Chuck), Janet Conway Fleenor, RN and Linda Conway Hensley, M.Ed. (Doug)—and six grandchildren—Michael Allen, Jr.,J.D. (Lara), Cora Allen, J.D.(Andrew), David Fleenor, III, Daniel Gene Fleenor, Isobel (Izzy) Hensley, and Cecelia (CeCe) Hensley.
In his youth, Gene pursued higher education at Kentucky Wesleyan and the University of Kentucky, earning induction into the academic honors fraternity Phi Beta Kappa. He obtained his BS in 1949 and continued his studies at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine (UCCM), graduating with an MD in 1952. He completed an internship at Philadelphia's General Hospital and went on to a residency in Internal Medicine at Louisville General Hospital. He returned to UCCM where he served as a resident in internal medicine and hematology. Following this, he assumed the role of Chief Medical Resident at Cincinnati's General Hospital and then became a United States Public Health Service Resident Fellow in Cardiology.
He was a Korean War veteran in the US Air Force where served as Chief Medical Officer at Forbes Air Force Hospital on the Topeka Air Force Base. In subsequent years, he served as an IMA reservist at Walter Reed, attaining the rank of Colonel and fulfilling the role of Reserve Chief of Medicine during emergencies.
Dr. Conway’s first love was clinical research and he served as a Clinical Investigator at Cincinnati's VA Medical Center, conducting impactful research and publishing numerous studies. Notably, he was the first to document and publish findings on the biochemical and biophysical alterations in contractile proteins of the heart muscle, correlating with heart function.
Dr. Conway pioneered the introduction of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) concept in Cincinnati. Additionally, he played a pivotal role in bringing forth the Critical Care Unit (CCU) concept, undertaking the training of nursing staff in CCU care, which encompassed the crucial skill of arrhythmia recognition. His contributions extended to the education of cardiac fellows—physician trainers—in acute cardiac care. Dr. Conway actively participated in the initiation and execution of the VA cooperative study on Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG) and the cooperative study on vasodilation for the diagnosis of Myocardial Infarction and Congestive Heart Failure. Notably, he served as the VA representative for the NIH Cardiorenal Study, showcasing his commitment to advancing cardiovascular research and care. Dr. Conway presented his research at the Society of Medicine in London, England and was invited to present at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris, France.
As the Associate Dean of Rural Health, Dr. Conway played a key role in establishing the Ohio Statewide Area Health Education Center (AHEC) programs, administered through the University of Cincinnati with an office in Georgetown. The AHEC's mission is to promote medical schools' efforts in expanding the training of students and residents in underserved community-based settings. Dr. Conway’s program served as the model program for all other medical school AHEC programs in Ohio.
Dr. Conway developed the University Health Plan for the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and was a staunch advocate for patient’s rights. Additionally, he served as the Interim Director of the UC College of Medicine Department of Internal Medicine and also as the Associate Director of Clinical Affairs. He served as the Medical Director of Ohio Valley Manor in Ripley, Ohio for over 40 years retiring in 2019.
Dr. Conway was honored to be appointed as a Kentucky Colonel in 1985 and bestowed with the Heart of Brown County Award by the Brown County Chapter of the American Heart Association. His achievements were further acknowledged through his inclusion in notable publications such as American Men and Women of Science, Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare, and Who’s Who in America.
A devoted fan of the UK Wildcats Men’s basketball team since the era of Adolph Rupp, Dr. Conway also held a lifelong passion for the American Saddlebred Horse. This appreciation for horses was a shared family passion, as his daughters were all accomplished riders and competitors. Nothing gave him greater pleasure than to spend time at the barn with his girls. He bred, owned and even trained Tri-State Horse Shows Association 5-gaited and 3-gaited Champions. Dr. Conway owned and cherished numerous others of this elegant breed.
The funeral service will begin at 2 p.m., Saturday, November 4, 2023, at Boone-Nickell Funeral Home with Pastor Robbie Shrout officiating.
Dr. Conway will be laid to rest in Fleming County Cemetery.
W.N. Fant American Legion Post #5 and Franklin Sousley VFW Post 1834 will be performing military rites.
In place of flowers, please consider a donation in memory of Dr. Conway to the charity on your choosing.
Friends may offer online condolences at www.boonenickellfuneralhome.com