Yilmaz was the youngest child of the Durudogan family. Before the turn of the century, his father, Ottoman Pasha Ibrahim, had fathered seven children. Upon the death of his first wife, Ibrahim married a young widow, Mediha, and had 4 children. He died 20 years later, survived by Mediha and 3 children (Mustafa, Fahri and Yilmaz). The Republic was established and the surname Durudogan was chosen.
Yilmaz earned his medical degree from Istanbul Medical School in 1950. Most of his professors had fled Hitler’s Germany prior to the Holocaust. He benefitted from an international class and a prestigious faculty. Yilmaz repaid his medical school with service as a municipal physician in Nazilli and Bosdogan villages in the Izmir Province, and completed his military service in Eastern Turkey.
In 1954, he followed a fellow classmate and interned at the Newport Hospital. There, he met his future wife Dorothy Donia Christian. Her sister Helen was the pharmacist at Newport Hospital. He then entered his Obstetrics and Gynecology residency at the Cardinal Spellman St. Claire’s Hospital in Manhattan, NY.
In late 1958, he returned to Turkey with his wife and newborn son. They settled in Izmir, where Yilmaz opened his private practice, worked in government supported healthcare, and was an active consultant with the NATO Hospital at the European Command Headquarters. Four years later, a military Coup D’état influenced their decision to return to the U.S. with their 2 sons and Yilmaz’s mother.
Settling in Rhode Island, he worked at Fatima and Kent County Hospital. in 1962, he joined the Audrain Medical Group with Dr. P. Houston, Dr. A. Carrellas, Dr. R. Knowles, and Dr. C. Serbst. Yilmaz eventually moved into a home office on Kay St., where he began a solo practice. Upon Dr. John Carey’s retirement from Newport Hospital, he became the Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology from 1973-1994. Yilmaz donated a birthing room to the hospital in memory of his mother.
Yilmaz always played soccer in his student days, but it was on the old hospital tennis courts on Powell Ave. that he learned to play tennis and enjoyed years of friendly competition at the indoor/outdoor Casino tennis courts. On weekends he could be found with his three sons in an enthusiastic street hockey game. On Kay St., there were at least 30 children in the neighborhood, so fielding a team was never a problem. In retirement, he was an avid, successful tournament player on the Boca Pointe tennis team.
Yilmaz authored 3 books. His autobiography titled, “From Island to Island”, and 2 OBS-GYN manuals, one for students and one for the general public. All were published in Turkey. In 1999, a 7.44 magnitude earthquake devastated the Naval Base at Golcuk, killing more than I00 people. The books were sold to benefit the surviving families of young seamen. Many Turkish naval officers studied at the Newport Naval War College. These officers & their families enriched Yilmaz’s and Dorothy Donia’s lives and led to a lifetime of devoted family friendships.
During his retirement, he and his wife lived in Hillsboro Beach and Boca Raton, Florida in the winter months. There, with his fellow Turkish retirees, he founded the Florida Turkish/American Assn (FTAA) in Fort Lauderdale. Yilmaz enjoyed singing in the chorus and participating in several FTAA clubs including Poetry, Book and Watercolor (which was taught by his wife).
Yilmaz is survived by his wife of 67 years, Dorothy Donia; his son Haluk and wife Elizabeth and their daughter Hayley; his son Hakan and wife Karen and their children, Peter, Eric, Sarah and Hunter; and his son Harun and wife Laura and their children, Leigh (Blake), Adam and Cate.
In Turkey, he is survived by two sisters-in-law, two nieces, one nephew, their children and grandchildren, and many extended family members.
Yilmaz will be buried in the family plot on Buyukada, Turkey. He lived a long life of selfless dedication, love of family, generosity, community, and humanity. He leaves prayers for one world.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.