Donald L. Sturtz, MD, FACS, passed away April 15, 2024. He was born to Walter R. Sturtz and Helene Kubik Sturtz on April 18, 1933 in Coshocton, Ohio.

He is survived by two brothers, Jim Sturtz of Michigan, and Ken Sturtz of Pennsylvania; his two daughters, Jimalee (Lyle) Humpton of Bridgeville and Janel (Rob) Hemmen of Seaford; eight grandchildren; and 22 great-grandchildren.

Don graduated with distinction from the United States Naval Academy with the class of 1955. He married his high school sweetheart, Alice McGuire Sturtz, and then served aboard the Destroyer RADFORD out of Pearl Harbor until entering flight training, Pensacola, FL. Earning his wings of gold in 1957, he served in VA 44 and VA 83, flying the A4D aboard the USS FORRESTAL.

Leaving active duty in 1960, Don graduated from the Medical School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1965. Dr. Sturtz trained as a general surgeon at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital. Upon completion of residency training in 1970, he was assigned as ship’s surgeon aboard the carrier AMERICA. From 1971 – 1980 he served as a staff surgeon at Naval Hospital Bethesda. In 1980 he reported to San Diego Naval Hospital as Chairman of Surgery. From there he was assigned as Executive Officer of Naval Hospital Oakland. His next duty was Professor of Surgery at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD. In 1986 he was selected as the first Commanding Officer of hospital ship USNS MERCY, (T-AH19) for its maiden voyage on a Southwest Pacific Humanitarian cruise. Selected as a Flag Officer, he became the Commander NAVAL MEDICAL COMMAND, National Capital Region, Bethesda, MD.

Rear Admiral Sturtz’s final active duty assignment was as CINCLANT Fleet and SACLANT surgeon at NATO Headquarters, Norfolk, VA.

He was a Governor of the American College of Surgeons, and served as the Navy representative on the Trauma Committee of the American College of Surgeons. Upon retirement, he returned to the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences as Harrison Shumaker Professor of Surgery, retiring from there in 2005.

Don and his wife moved to Lewes in 1997, fulfilling a life-long dream of living in a historic home near the water. In the midst of a very rewarding but demanding career, Don counted his family as his greatest earthly blessing. He and his wife of nearly 65 years, Alice, joyfully loved and influenced untold numbers. The whole of Don’s life was built upon his relationship with God, on the basis of salvation through belief in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of his sins. His daily desire was “to do God’s will and bring Him glory.” Dr. Sturtz, who helped lengthen life for many, now rejoices in life eternal. 

A Memorial service will be held on Monday, April 22, 2024 at 10 a.m. at Lewes Presbyterian Church with interment with full military honors will take place at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

Please visit Rear Admiral Sturtz’s tribute page located at