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Greenville, NC 27834

The East Carolina Heart Institute at PCMH unveils portrait of renowned surgeon Chitwood

Written By Jimmy Ryals on March 30, 2010

GREENVILLE -- Repaired hearts are not the only works of art Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood Jr. has produced.

A gifted photographer, Chitwood’s images have been the subject of studio shows.

As of Monday evening, Chitwood is himself the subject of a work of art.

During a ceremony at the East Carolina Heart Institute at Pitt County Memorial Hospital, roughly 70 people joined Chitwood in unveiling the portrait.

“As you look at this portrait, it really symbolizes all of you,” said Chitwood, who is senior associate vice chancellor for health sciences at East Carolina University and director of the East Carolina Heart Institute.

“Really, the things that I came here to do many years ago, I never thought we’d be able to do to the level that we’ve done today,” Chitwood said. “It’s through your support – and almost everybody in this room was there at the very beginning – that we’ve been able to build this together.”

The portrait will hang in the patient resource center at the East Carolina Heart Institute at PCMH.

Members of the Chitwood family joined officials from PCMH, University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina and the Brody School of Medicine in paying tribute to Chitwood during the unveiling.

UHS CEO Dave McRae fondly recalled the 30-plus years he has worked with Chitwood.

“Ranny Chitwood is a special person to me, not only because of those 30 years of history, and not only because we’re standing in what his hand has wrought for Eastern Carolina,” McRae said, referring to the $160 million Heart Institute at PCMH, “but because of the man himself, the person and personality.”

Phyllis Horns, vice chancellor for health sciences at ECU, credited Chitwood for “the vision and passion he has brought to ECU.”

“He is always in search of the best of the best of the best for his patients,” Horns said.

Award-winning portrait and gallery artist Rich Nelson, a western North Carolina resident, painted the portrait of Chitwood. Nelson, who has completed more than 300 commissioned oil portraits won first place in the Portrait Society of America’s 2009 Members-Only Competition for Oil, second place in the Portrait Society of America’s 2008 Members-Only Outdoor Portrait Competition, finalist in the 2007 Portrait Society of America’s Members-Only Children’s Portrait Competition, among other honors. Chitwood’s wife of more than 40 years, Tammy Chitwood, worked closely with Nelson on the portrait.

“I work toward ‘painterly realism:’ good drawing and composition, rendered with strong natural color, in such a way that you can still ‘sense’ or ‘feel’ the paint,” Nelson said, describing his artistic sensibility. “The effect of this process is that the subject begins to artfully reveal itself to me and, hopefully, the viewer.”

Hailing from Detroit, Nelson earned his bachelor of fine arts degree from the College Of Creative Studies in 1988.