Dr. Jean Chapman, respected allergist and artist, dies at age 80

Monday, March 23, 2009
FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com
Dr. Jean Chapman discussed sculpture in this 2007 photo.

Retired allergist Dr. Jean Chapman, 80, of Cape Girardeau died Monday at Southeast Missouri Hospital. He was on the hospital's staff from July 1959 to August 1997, when he retired.

His friend and colleague, Dr. Thomas C. Sparkman, who has been in family practice for 45 years, said they were friends for 40 years.

"He was a great, outstanding physician recognized widely. He had a lectureship named for him while he was still alive. No matter where we were, there were all these doctors who knew him. He was recognized widely throughout the nation. One of the great things he did that was adopted by others was the collecting of pollen at the university," Sparkman said.

"He encouraged me in political medicine," Sparkman said. "Outside of his achievements in medicine, he was outstanding in his leadership in the community. He was on the Arts Council board for at least decade. The Arts Council is very unique. It is the first one in Missouri and the second one in the U.S. He was very instrumental, being the one that ran it."

Chapman served on the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri board from 1998 to 2004.

"Jean was always a very motivated guy. As an artist, he did sculpture, painting, drawing. He liked to work with the figure and had attended the Black Door Gallery drawing class," said Craig Thomas, freelance artist and co-owner of Black Door Gallery.

"He was a great fundraiser and the arts council appreciated it. He was such a positive force in the arts. A great spokesperson for the arts. A person that we'll all miss," Thomas said.

Thomas said that because of Chapman's efforts, the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri was able to move to the larger space at 32 N. Main St. in Cape Girardeau. Chapman founded the Visual Arts Co-op in 2003; its gallery, the Jean A. Chapman Gallery, is named after him.

"There's more to him than being an artist," said Utahna Hancock, chairman of the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri. She said Chapman contacted every local artist he knew to find out if they'd be interested in forming the co-op. Their memberships help pay the rent on the arts council building.

"He was able to describe every single artist at the Arts Council and describe that person's art," Hancock said of a special Chapman-led visit to the arts council.

Visitation will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Ford and Sons Mount Auburn Funeral Home.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at First Presbyterian Church.

cpagano@semissourian.com

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