Former patients remember beloved doctor who attended Emory, killed in Tulsa shooting

TULSA, Okla. — Dr. Preston Phillips touched many lives as a surgeon and was known by many to be a wonderful man.

Those who knew him said his sudden death at the hands of a mass shooter in Tulsa has left them shell-shocked.

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“I think I’m just kind of in shell shock as I think most everybody is,” said Mary Benes, one of his former patients.

On Wednesday, Oklahoma authorities say one of Phillips’ patients shot and killed him, along with three others at the St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa.

“I’m just heartbroken and sad,” Benes said, “and just, it’s just unbelievable.”


Long before the tragedy, his online biography said he received several advanced degrees from Emory University in Atlanta, including organic chemistry, pharmacology and theology.

Along with a degree from Harvard Medical School, he was clearly a man who loved to learn.

“Saw that he had graduated from Harvard and everything and thought, oh, this guy is going to be good, so yeah, I felt pretty confident being a patient of his,” Benes said.

Police say the shooter targeted Phillips, because he was upset with the results of his surgery Phillips performed just two weeks ago.

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At just 59 years old, Phillips was an orthopedic surgeon, and also his colleagues say, a wonderful man.

“Preston, Dr. Phillips was the consummate gentleman,” Dr. Cliff Robertson, St. Francis CEO said. “He was a man that we should all strive to emulate.”

Now, the man who used what he learned from Emory to Harvard to help others, saw his life end far too soon, in the country’s latest mass shooting.

“Last week it was Uvalde, Texas. This week it was Tulsa. Where is it going to be next?” Benes asked.