Golfing, painting to 100 - The Explorer: El Sol

Golfing, painting to 100

E. James Mulligan, M.D., is being honored by OV

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Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 11:00 pm | Updated: 1:24 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

E. James Mulligan, M.D., doesn't care too much for the limelight.

He loves to teach. He spends three days a week, a few hours at a time, painting in the makeshift art studio in his own home. And when he isn't painting, Mulligan can be found out on the golf course.

On Aug. 11, he will be turning 100.

Approaching his millennium mark on this earth, the Town of Oro Valley is looking to honor Mulligan with a proclamation on Aug. 5.

Mayor Paul Loomis and Councilman Al Kunisch will travel to Mulligan's house during the day to recognize Mulligan's significant milestone. That night, the proclamation will be re-read in front of the council.

Mulligan got his first glimpse of teaching when he was 14 years old and won a statewide public speaking competition. Mulligan and his competitors were given a topic to discuss in front of a group of a couple hundred people.

"All I could remember was how to keep my knees from knocking," he joked.

Mulligan tried out for the high school football team as a quarterback. There he slightly injured his left knee, and never continued with the sport.

Still healthy and mobile, living on his own in Oro Valley, Mulligan says, "the only thing that bothers me is my knee injury. And that goes back to high school."

Mulligan drives himself in his golf cart to the library, the grocery store and of course to the golf course. He takes care of himself and he likes it that way.

Mulligan enrolled at Ivy League school Brown University in Providence, R.I., majoring in chemistry and biology. That put him close to friends taking pre-medicine. On a whim, Mulligan decided to take the preliminary medical school test. Little did he know he would get a request for an interview at Yale Medical School, and later get in.

Throughout his schooling and into his career working in head and neck surgery, Mulligan took to lecturing and speaking in front of students.

He applied to John Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Md., for permanent residency, and got a job teaching on staff.

"So, that's what I did with the rest of my life," Mulligan said. "People from all over the world would come to the operating room. And if there were only a couple of doctors in the observing area sitting up in the seats, I would invite them down to look over my shoulder as I did surgery and procedures."

When asked why he decided to lecture instead of going into his own practice, Mulligan simply says, "Because I like to teach."

He is a simple man, but a gentle man. When told he plays golf very well, a slight smile comes across his face, a quiet "thank you" follows, and he shifts the credit of his playing ability to his previous golf instructors.

During his retired life, Mulligan traveled with his late wife Doris all over the country. Any hotel he and his wife visited, he had one thing to do first. After checking in, he would set up a lesson with the course professional. All of those lessons have helped him keep his score around his age.

A little into retirement, Mulligan decided to take some art classes and enrolled into art school.

Gracing the walls of his house are numerous oil-on-canvas paintings, mostly of Native Americans. One of them shows a young girl looking off to the side while grasping a while doll in her embrace. A somber expression sits on the girl's face. The background is very simple, helping the girl's pink dress stand out from the background. All of his paintings are meticulously painted and flawless in their presentation.

He said he has only entered one art contest.

"I entered and got first place. I have never entered another one," Mulligan joked, because he couldn't do any better than that.

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