Paul L. Whitehead, MD

May 23, 1936 - March 23, 2024
Paul L. Whitehead, MD

Born in Salt Lake City on May 23, 1936, to Marva, a schoolteacher, and Rolland, a barber and business owner, Paul was a fifth-generation Utahn who, from the beginning, possessed a sharp intellect, unique talents, and earnest humility. The youngest of three boys, Paul’s uncompromising character, spontaneous wit, steadfast discipline, and unwavering kindness resulted in many accolades as a youth, including the Deseret Recognition Badge, the Good Citizen Award, and the rank of Eagle Scout.
As a sophomore at East High, Paul’s academic success earned him early admission to the University of Utah as a Ford Scholar. He graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in biology, summa cum laude, all while commuting, via his red Cushman scooter, to his job at the Saltair Resort. 

Paul entered the University of Utah School of Medicine at age 20. His peers aptly summarized his tour de force in their 1960 Yearbook: "Paul is a native Utahn whose major talent is the pursuit and acquisition of the coveted ‘A,’ a task at which he is singularly proficient. A Ford Scholar, Paul graduated with high honors from the University of Utah. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Beta Phi, President of Alpha Omega Alpha (the medical school honor society), vice president of Phi Beta Pi, spends his spare time playing the organ, is a member of the American Guild of Organists and was selected Outstanding Junior Student.”
After graduating, Paul took a medical internship at Cincinnati General Hospital, followed by service in the United States Air Force as a General Medical Officer at Wakkanai Air Station in Hokkaido, Japan. Paul would warmly recall those frigid days in Northern Japan tending to the medical needs of his fellow Airmen. He was honorably discharged and then returned to Cincinnati General Hospital to complete his residency in psychiatry and fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry. On a bus tour he met his future wife, Marilyn Davis, a Connecticut-born social work graduate student from Smith College. They married in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, in 1964.
After welcoming two of their four children, Paul and Marilyn moved to Utah, where Paul joined the University of Utah School of Medicine faculty, established the Department of Child Psychiatry at Primary Children’s Hospital, and was appointed Departmental Chair of Child Psychiatry. His tenure as Chair was noteworthy for his strong clinical and administrative skills, dedication to patient care, and commitment to principles of social justice, which resulted in the implementation of Primary Children’s Hospital’s first Equal Employment Opportunity policy statement.
In 1980, Paul opened a private practice where he supported hundreds of children, adolescents, and adults struggling with mental health-related concerns. Through his advocacy, he contributed immensely to the growth of psychiatric services in Utah. Paul served as President of the Utah Psychiatric Association, President of the Intermountain Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Chairman of the Advisory Council for Children and Youth for the Utah State Division of Mental Health, and as Board Examiner for Child and General Psychiatry. He served as the Public Affairs Representative for the Utah Psychiatric Association for over a decade and remained involved in training psychiatric residents as an Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry. Paul’s efforts to raise awareness about mental illness, including his successful establishment of the first “Mental Health Awareness Week” under Governor Bangerter, were among his most prized career accomplishments. For his service to the community, Paul received the Norman S. Anderson, MD, Award for Distinguished Service, Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Pathfinder Award for Leadership in Training in Child Mental Health, and the 50-year medallion from the University of Utah School of Medicine. 
Paul was disciplined and high-achieving but also generous and kind-hearted. His most significant accomplishments were his four children, six grandchildren, and 60-year marriage. Together, Paul and Marilyn nurtured a cohesive family and were active in the community. They were well known for hosting fundraising events in their backyard to promote the arts, the Utah AIDS Foundation, and the local child psychiatry community.

Paul had a keen interest in music and was a pianist and master organist. He engineered an optimal acoustic space for its expression in their home in Holladay, made three commercial recordings, and composed and performed a unique score for each of his children’s weddings. 
Paul died on March 23, 2024. He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers, Carl and Duane. He is survived by his wife Marilyn, four children: Anne (Jim) Morgan, Dr. Paul (Claire) Whitehead, Kathryn (Tony) Goddard, Emily (Dr. Steve) Bleyl; and grandchildren Connor and Erin Morgan, Grace Goddard, Greer Bleyl, and Chloe and Charlotte Whitehead.
A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, May 11 from 4:00 PM until 6:00 PM at Starks Funeral Parlor, 3651 South 900 East, Salt Lake City.  Guests are encouraged to use the parking and entrance on the north side of the building.

The family welcomes flowers, cards, or memorial donations to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill or Neighborhood House in Salt Lake City.