Obituary for Dr. Alva Jefferson “Jeff” Bethurum, MD
August 30, 1943 – June 4, 2023
Devoted husband, father, physician, pilot, mayor, community servant, and Christian, Dr. Alva Jefferson Bethurum, MD, age 79, of Franklin, Tennessee, passed peacefully to the Kingdom of Heaven on June 4, 2023, surrounded by his loved ones at his home in Franklin, Tennessee.
Dr. Bethurum was born to Elizabeth Jefferson Bethurum and William Johnson Bethurum, Jr. in Franklin, Tennessee on August 30, 1943. He grew up in Franklin and graduated from Battle Ground Academy in the Class of 1961. He received his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University where he was a proud member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. During these years, he kindled an interest in a service-driven medical career while working as an office and surgical assistant to Dr. Harry Guffee, a pioneering Williamson County physician and surgeon. He went on to receive his medical education from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, where he graduated in 1968. He completed an internship at Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix before returning to Memphis to complete a general surgery residency and vascular surgery fellowship. He was proud to come back to his hometown of Franklin, where he practiced medicine for 47 years as a board certified general and vascular surgeon at Williamson Medical Center. Throughout his career, he served for 9 years (1982-1989) as the hospital’s Chief of Staff, 8 years (1990-1998) as the medical center’s Chief of Surgery, and 37 years (1981-2019) on the hospital’s Board of Trustees.
Dr. Bethurum valued the patient-physician relationship during his successful professional career in Williamson County. He loved every single one of his patients and dedicated his life to their care. He earned The Patient’s Choice Awards in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2014. He was named Physician of the Year in 1991. Throughout his career he served with honor and distinction in various leadership roles, helping to lead the hospital board through many important growth initiatives, including the relocation of the hospital to its current location. Dr. Bethurum continued to practice until he officially retired on his 78th birthday on August 30, 2022.
Dr. Bethurum served the community as the Mayor for the City of Franklin from 1977-1987, a time during which he also served as a member of Franklin Planning Commission. In honor of his commitment to the Franklin community, it was proclaimed that October 26 would officially be “Dr. Jeff Bethurum Day.”
Throughout his life, Jeff had abundant, unique passions. He was proud to have one of the earliest pilot’s licenses in Tennessee which he obtained during his undergraduate years. He cherished any chance to take out his Cessna 180, even if it was just to get breakfast. Jeff found adventure travelling across the country with his motorcycle group composed of several friends and fellow physicians; the group proudly claimed to have “cut into more people than any other biker group in the country.” He loved hunting and was happy to see his sons adopt this same love from a young age. One of his prized traditions for nearly 40 years was an annual hunting trip to Kimball, South Dakota, with his sons and a group of beloved friends. In addition, Jeff enjoyed spending weeknights sharing a good bowl of ice cream with his daughter and weekends friends and family at Rock Island, passing on his love for slalom skiing.
Most of all, Dr. Bethurum loved his wife, Amy Bethurum; his children, Alva Jefferson Bethurum, Jr. and fiancé Summer Shore, John Bethurum, and Carothers Bethurum; his nephew, Billy Bethurum; and his colleagues, co-workers, patients, and friends. Jeff lived a fast-paced life, but more than anything, he enjoyed the chance to slow down and spend quality time with those people that he loved.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Elizabeth and William Bethurum, Jr., and his brother, William Bethurum, III.
For those whose lives were touched by Jeff, you know that he was truly one-of-a-kind, whether it be his antiquated accent, thought-out and particular way of doing anything, or hopeful lens through which he saw the good in each person. Jeff lived a full life committed to helping others. His legacy will be remembered, honored, and continue to have a lasting impact.
Visitation will be Wednesday, June 7th, 2023, from 2:00 to 7:00 pm at the Williamson Memorial Funeral Home. The funeral service will be held on Thursday, June 8th, 2023, at 11:00 am at the Franklin First United Methodist Church Historic Sanctuary. Burial will follow at Mt. Hope Cemetery.
Pallbearers will be Bob Sewell, Michael Henry, Tim Burton, John Brown, Bill Jones, John Wade, Rhea Holly, Brandon Mitchell, Todd Robinson, and Jim Ferguson.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Dr. Bethurum to Williamson Health Foundation, 4321 Carothers Parkway, Franklin, TN 37067 or online, https://www.wmcfoundation.com/.