John Covington Suares

Funeral services for John Covington Suares, 104, Ophthalmologist, of Greenville will be at 1:00 p.m., Saturday, October 7 at First Presbyterian Church, Greenville. He died Wednesday, October 4. Burial will be in the Greenville Cemetery under the direction of Boone Funeral Home, Greenville. 

Dr. Suares was born September 17, 1913, in New Orleans, Louisiana. He graduated from Warren Easton High School in New Orleans in 1931, during the Great Depression. From there he enrolled in Tulane University, where he played the saxophone in the Tulane Marching Band. The highlight of his college years was his trip with the band to Pasadena, CA, when Tulane played in the 1932 Rose Bowl. He went on to Tulane Medical School in 1933, and was a member of the Honor Council, and served as president of the medical fraternity, Phi Rho Sigma. He graduated in 1937, and joined the U.S. Army Medical reserves while completing a residency in ophthalmology and otolaryngology. He received further post-graduate training at L.S.U. School of Medicine, New York University and the University of Pennsylvania. He was called to active duty in 1941 as a medical officer, and served as chief of the eye, ear, nose and throat section of the Station Hospital at Camp Croft in Spartanburg, South Carolina. During overseas duty Dr. Suares was chief of the eye, ear, nose, and throat section of the 176th Station Hospital, Pacific Theater on Saipan, and later became the commanding officer of the hospital. Before his discharge in 1946 he received a battle star and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. In 1947, he moved with his family to Greenville, MS to join his friends, Dr. Lyne Gamble, from his residency days at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. He practiced medicine at Gamble Brothers and Archer Clinic for the next 48 years. When he began practicing medicine, there was no Medicaid, Medicare, and no university hospitals to take care of the indigent at the state’s expense. He and his partners felt that taking care of the indigent was an obligation of all doctors. No one was turned away because they couldn’t pay for medical services. He was a founder of the Greenville Satellite Eye Clinic which was formed to provide eye care for the indigent of the Delta, and to participate in the training of the eye residents of the Mississippi School of Medicine. Dr. John continued his association with Gamble Brothers and Archer Clinic until his partial retirement in 1980 at age 67, and his full retirement at age 80. 

To relieve the stress of the practice of medicine, Dr. Suares immersed himself in many hobbies. One of his first endeavors was photography in the early 50’s, complete wih an assortment of cameras and a darkroom. After that waned, he proceeded to become a ham radio operator, with wires, poles, and antennae. In the 60’s he became a pilot and flew his own plane. He hunted ducks and doves, fished, traveled extensively, and played golf for many years. After his retirement he formed a band, “The Retreads”, and played the saxophone at many weddings and country club and charity events. 

Dr. Suares was a member of First Presbyterian Church, where he served as Sunday School teacher, deacon, elder, and clerk of the session. He was a member of the staffs of King’s Daughters Hospital, Delta Medical Center, and the University Hospital in Jackson. He was certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and a fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a member of the American Medical Association and past president of Delta Medical Society. He served on the committee that initiated and planned the Washington County General Hospital, presently known as Delta Medical Center, and is past president of the staff. He served as king of the Greenville Junior Auxiliary Charity Ball in 1989. 

Dr. Suares was an avid reader of non-fiction, particularly history and philosophy. He was a wealth of information on many topics. For that reason, whenever his grandchildren needed questions answered, they were always told to “ask Papa”. Many people outside of his family came to him for advice and guidance, due to his open-mind, ability to empathize, and his keen sense of humor. 

Dr. Suares is preceded in death by his father, Edmund John Suares, his mother, Bessie Covington Suares, sister, Mary Lou Garcia, and wife of 60 years, Marie Tuyes Suares; son, Dr. John Covington Suares, Jr. and son, George Edmund Suares.

Survivors include his wife, Muriel Bolls Suares, son, Dr. Robert Suares (Carol) of Greenville; daughter, Ann Marshall of Jackson; daughter-in-law, Chambrea Suares of Greenville; grandchildren, Cherie Welty (Tony) of Bullard, TX, Dr. Neal Suares (Paige) of Greenville, Deanne Morgan of Greenville, Glen Suares (Kelly) of Los Angeles, CA, Dr. Greg Suares of Honolulu, HI, Wendy Evans (Stephen) of Edmund, OK, James Marshall (Grace) of San Diego, CA and John Marshall of Jackson; 14 great grandchildren, 1 great-great grandchild; step-daughter, Jan Bolls Smith (Glen) of Madison; step-son, Patrick Bolls (Kelly) of Greenville and step-son, Newman Bolls of Memphis. 

There will be a visitation one hour prior to services at the church. Memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church of Greenville, The American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association.