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Medical Center Plants Tree Memorializing Dr. Rebecca Shadowen

Lisa Autry

The Medical Center in Bowling Green is honoring the legacy of Dr. Rebecca Shadowen.

The region’s top infectious disease specialist died last year from COVID-19. A memorial tree was planted Monday afternoon on the hospital campus at the corner of High St. and 2nd Ave.

Her husband, retired physician David Shadowen, said one of her last professional acts is still having a positive impact.

“I think what people should remember about my wife is that she was really interested in patient care and taking care of people. The last big project she did was helping develop the COVID unit and protocols for taking care of COVID patients, which I think has been successful," Shadowen told reporters. "We’ve lost over 200 people in our area to COVID, but by the same token, we’ve had over 1,000 people in the hospital get out alive.”

Credit Lisa Autry
A marker on the Medical Center campus honors the life and career of Dr. Rebecca Shadowen.

The tree was donated by local arborist Davis Draper, who’s a friend of the Shadowen family. The tree is a Flame Thrower Red Bud, and the only known one in Kentucky. Once mature, it will have vibrant yellow, red, and orange leaves. Draper said he wanted something to reflect Dr. Rebecca Shadowen's uniqueness as a physician and friend to so many.

A marker in front of the tree bears Dr. Shadowen’s name with the inscription “physician, teacher, colleague, and friend.”

David Shadowen said the community can continue to honor her memory by wearing masks and getting vaccinated. 

Her friend and colleague of 30 years, Dr. Melinda Joyce, says while the hospital system has vaccinated more than 78,000 people, Dr. Shadowen wouldn't be satisfied.

"She wanted everybody to be vaccinated so that we can truly end this horrible disease, Joyce said.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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