Medical 01

Dr George Orphanos

August 5, 1938 ~ May 17, 2022 (age 83)


Dr. George J. Orphanos was born on August 5, 1938 in Astypalea, Greece a small island in the western Aegean Sea. It was there that he was raised and attended primary school until his time at the University in Athens, Greece. He then began his study of medicine and graduated with his doctorate of medicine (M.D.) in 1965 from the University of Athens.
Dr. Orphanos, who was an American citizen through his father, then traveled to America in 1965 where he passed the necessary certifications to enter an internship at Fordham Misericordia Hospital - Bronx (NYC) which he completed in 1968. He would then enter his residency training at Long Island Jewish Medical/Queens General in general surgery completing his residency in 1969. During his residency, he developed an interest in orthopedic surgery and decided to begin an orthopedic residency at Long Island Jewish Hospital/Hillside Medical Center/Queens General Hospital Center. He completed his residency in orthopedic surgery between 1970-1973, serving as chief resident in 1973. Dr. Orphanos is a board certified orthopedic surgeon (AAOS) and obtained his board certification in 1979. He also became a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery in 1981.

Becoming an orthopedic surgeon was probably always in the cards for Dr. Orphanos. An article published in the Register Herald in 2009 about him and his life and career contained some insight into his motivation.

“My first cousin and godfather was an orthopedic surgeon. He was killed during World War II. The whole family was instrumental in encouraging me to go into this profession.”
Dr. Orphanos met the love of his life, Sofia Reyes while working in Brooklyn at Adelphi Hospital. Ms. Reyes was a registered nurse and the couple fell in love and were married in 1966. The couple would welcome their daughters, Nancy Demetra Orphanos and Joann Orphanos while living in New York City.
Dr. Orphanos would soon be recruited to work in Beckley, WV in 1973 as an orthopedic surgeon. He would work with a fellow Greek orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Nick Zambos. Dr. Orphanos immediately fell in love with his first visits to West Virginia. At heart, and from growing up in a small island community in Greece, he believed in the strong community offered by a small town such as Beckley. He was enamored with the West Virginia hills and the people of this community who he would serve faithfully during his long career. He knew that Beckley would be a good place to practice medicine and a great place to raise his family. Dr. Orphanos and his family set their roots in Beckley and were proud to become a part of the fabric of the community.
While in West Virginia, Dr. Orphanos and his wife welcomed the birth of their son, John Russell Orphanos who was born in 1978.
Dr. Orphanos would continue to practice orthopedic surgery in Beckley for greater than 40 years. He operated at Beckley Hospital, Appalachian Regional Hospital and Raleigh General Hospital. He maintained a private practice from 1986 forward and was able to positively affect the lives of thousands of residents in southern West Virginia throughout his career. Dr. Orphanos would say of his work,
“I really like to be a diagnostician. The detective work of medicine is very exciting. At the same time I like the hands-on work of surgery and gaining the satisfaction that the bone is set in the proper way, and the patient is getting the best care.”

For Dr. Orphanos, there was no greater reward than having a former patient tell him he or she recovered well and had no problems following surgery. He loved his patients and always would strive to provide the best care and also develop strong relationships with them.

 “I try to spend a little extra time with my patients and listen to them. Sometimes, something else that is going on at home or in their life can have a significant impact on how they are doing with an orthopedic injury or concern.”
In his free time, Dr. Orphanos was a voracious reader and enjoyed learning about ancient history and archaeology. He loved swimming in the sea. He had a green thumb, and he cultivated his land growing flowers and vegetables. He would travel back to his native Greece frequently to visit with family and enjoy a vacation. He was a man of deep faith and devotion to God and this kept him grounded throughout his life.

Dr. Orphanos was also a loving husband and devoted father. He believed in taking care of his family and wanted to create an environment to support his children and encourage their success. His greatest reward in life was seeing his children grow up to be successful individuals and obtain their education.
Dr. Nancy Demetra Orphanos obtained her Doctorate of Dentistry (DDS) from Northwestern University in Chicago, IL. She is currently a private practice dentist in south Florida.
Dr. Joann Orphanos obtained her Doctorate of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) from Chicago School of Podiatry in Chicago, IL. She is fellowship-trained in the treatment of diabetic feet and is currently in private practice in Gulfport, MS. Dr. John Russell Orphanos obtained his Doctorate of Medicine (MD) from West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV. He is a Neurological Surgeon who is fellowship trained in complex spine surgery and is currently employed by WVOrthoNeuro in Charleston, WV.

Dr. Orphanos was also blessed with five wonderful grandchildren who he loved dearly. Sofia Isabella (18) is a freshmen at Ole Miss and her brother George M. (10) is in secondary school in Gulfport, MS. Eleni (16) and Sofia Emilia (15) are in high school in Northern Virginia. Caroline (5) will be entering kindergarten in the fall at Sacred Heart in Charleston, WV.
Dr. Orphanos is survived by his loving wife, Sofia R. Orphanos. They enjoyed 56 years of marriage together. Mrs. Orphanos was her husbands greatest supporter and advocate. She raised the children and supported their home while also helping Dr. Orphanos run his private practice as his manager for many years. They enjoyed to travel and were blessed to visit many places and countries together throughout their life. Their love was unconditional and they were inseparable. Towards the end of his life, Mrs. Orphanos was the primary caregiver for her husband and although their lives were changing, Dr. Orphanos was able to remain in his home with his wife and be surrounded by his family until the very end.
Dr. Orphanos passed away in his home, in the early morning hours of May 17, 2022, with his wife and son by his side.
He will be remembered for his strength and compassion. He was a noble and honorable man that would always act with conviction and honesty. He was a gentle soul that would always give to others before he thought of himself. Although he was a successful physician, he would always say that his greatest successes were because of his family and his greatest pride rested with them. He will be missed by many, and loved by so many more.

May his memory be eternal...

Dr. Orphanos will lay in repose at the Melton Mortuary Chapel on Thursday, May 19th, 2022 from 6 to 8 pm. The Mass of Christian Burial will be offered on Friday, May 20th, 2022 at 1:00 pm. The Rite of Committal will follow in the Sunset Memorial Park Mausoleum. 

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Dr George Orphanos, please visit our floral store.


May 19, 2022

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Melton Mortuary Chapel

Mass of Christian Burial
May 20, 2022

1:00 PM
Saint Francis de Sales Catholic Church (Beckley WV)

May 20, 2022

5:33 PM
Sunset Memorial Park Mausoleum

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