John Forrest

You can never truly relive a moment in your life, but you can relive the memories every time you share them with someone else.

Tulsa physician John B. Forrest’s (BA ‘72) earliest memories are of sitting next to his grandfather, Herbert A. Forrest, at Skelly Stadium helping to cheer the Golden Hurricane to victory. Those cherished memories have now evolved into a mission for Forrest.

Forrest, along with six other people, has a very special goal — to fill Skelly Stadium for the first football game. As a legacy, Forrest will never forget the moments he shared with his family at the stadium and wants others to experience that same warmth in making their own memories at a place rich with history and meaning.

“My earliest memories are of going to football games at Skelly Stadium with my grandfather,” he says. “Both my grandfather and my father impressed on me at an early age that TU is one of the integral pillars of this community, and that the continuing support of TU was a very important issue, not only for the Forrest family, but also for the community in general.”

In fact, Herbert was so adamant on Forrest’s father attending The University of Tulsa, that he paid a professor’s salary during the Great Depression to ensure his son graduated with a degree from TU.

Forrest voluntarily paid the salary of his son’s biology teacher, Professor C.A. Levengood, during a time when the university was forced to lay off many of the staff and faculty. Levengood remained at TU for many years thereafter, eventually teaching John.

Forrest has continued to follow in the footsteps of both his father, Dr. Herbert J. Forrest (BA ‘42), and his cousin, C.D. Forrest, who served on the TU Board of Trustees. But on Saturday, September 24, 2005, John will make his own footprints across Skelly field when he’s honored as a 2005 TU Distinguished Alumnus.

After making his mark as a leader on the TU campus, Forrest went on to medical school at the University of Oklahoma, graduating in 1972. He completed his residency at the University of Virginia and was an American Cancer Society Fellow at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute in New York before returning to Tulsa to practice urologic oncology.

While a resident at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville, Forrest developed an interest in patients who were in almost constant pain from interstitial cystitis (IC), a chronic inflammation of the bladder that affects both men and women.

“Twenty years ago, IC was a ‘closet disease’, one not readily diagnosed,” he says. “Now, when IC is diagnosed at an early stage, we can alleviate the symptoms.”

He’s now on the leading edge of research into the causes and cure for IC, playing an integral part in reducing suffering for IC patients. His expertise in IC and prestige in the field of medicine have carried him across the nation speaking to the National Institute of Health and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease in Alexandria, Virginia, as well as around the globe in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland.

He recently completed his term as chief of staff at St. John Medical Center and will serve as president of the South Central Section of the American Urologic Association in 2007, all in addition to maintaining a successful private practice with the 16-member (soon to be 18) Urologic Specialists of Oklahoma Inc.

Forrest’s knowledge is sought after in Grand Rounds where he discusses interesting cases with other physicians and medical students around the United States, including Scripps Research Institute, in La Jolla, California; Cleveland Clinic, in Ohio; and the University of Texas Southwestern Department of Obstetrics-Gynecology, in Dallas. As an associate professor of surgery/urology at the OU Health Sciences Center in Tulsa; a panelist and speaker at numerous conferences; and a published writer in a plethora of medical journals and conference papers, Forrest continues to give back to the medical community.

He has served on the TU Board of Trustees, on the Alumni Association Board of Directors and as president of the Golden Hurricane Club.

Forrest and his wife, Cheryl (BS ’74), are enthusiastic Tulsans and strong supporters of the University as longtime donors and members of TU’s Circle Society.

“When it came down to it, Cheryl and I both felt a very strong pull to be with family and community,” Forrest says of their decision to forgo job offerings at prestigious institutions such as Cornell and Yale and return to Tulsa. The Forrests have two children, Bennett, who graduated from Westminster College in Missouri, and Stephanie, a student at Texas Christian University.