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Charleston professor, physician Alfred Pfister dies


Dr. Alfred Pfister, a long-time Charleston physician and medical professor, died this week after a battle with cancer.

Pfister, who was 80, practiced medicine in Charleston for more than 50 years.

“He was an adored physician in this region,” Dr. Brittain McJunkin, an internal medicine colleague of Pfister’s at the WVU Health Sciences Center-Charleston Division/CAMC. “He had probably thousands of loyal patients over a 50-year career.”

McJunkin described Pfister as humble, devoted and always upbeat. He was a brilliant physician and a gifted teacher and educator, he said.

“He inspired every medical resident and student who worked with him. Everyone was inspired to be like Dr. Pfister,” McJunkin said.

In addition to medicine, Pfister loved the southwest, particularly Arizona and the Navajo people, McJunkin said. He also loved running and participated in the Charleston Distance Run.

Pfister was born in Wheeling. Prior to settling in Charleston, Pfister served as the lieutenant commander in the U.S. Public Health Service on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.

Over his career, some of his awards and achievements included a Fellowship in the American College of Physicians, Outstanding Clinician Teaching Award, Attending Physician of the Year, Special Recognition Award for Unsurpassed Approach to Medicine and Exceptional Capabilities as a Teacher in the Department of Internal Medicine, the Shawn Chillag, MD Attending of the Year Award, and the West Virginia University School of Medicine Dean’s Award, according to his obituary.

He is the namesake the Alfred K. Pfister Award in Internal Medicine given to medical students at the Charleston Division.

Dr. William Carter, a cardiologist and professor at the Charleston Division, said he considered Pfister a mentor even though the men are around the same age. Carter said Pfister had incredible knowledge of medicine, even from a young age.

“He just loved medicine so much and loved keep up with journals and sharing his knowledge with other people,” Carter said. “He had a great sense of humor.”

Carter said though Pfister had been ill, he kept coming into the office to work on research.

“He will be missed greatly,” Carter said.

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