Dr. Richard M. Champion

Published 4:46 pm Wednesday, July 5, 2023

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Dr. Richard M. Champion, 79, of Birmingham, AL, passed away on June 30, 2023 after a short, debilitating illness.

He was born to Hubert and Lillian Champion in Pine Mountain, Georgia on Dec. 8, 1943. He grew up working on the family farm and graduated from Troup County High School. In 1965, he received his Bachelor of Science degree from Auburn University where he was a member of Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society.

He attended the Medical College of Alabama (Heersink School of Medicine, UAB) where he was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. 

He received his MD degree in 1969 and began his internship at Carraway Methodist Medical Center after which he completed his fellowship in pulmonary medicine under the tutelage of Dr. Dick Briggs at UAB Hospital.

After completing his fellowship, Dr. Champion was asked to join Norwood Clinic, a multi-specialty clinic associated with Carraway. Carraway offered varied opportunities for him to practice pulmonary medicine where he began the use of fiberoptic bronchoscopy, managed patients with critical care needs, and was medical director of pulmonary and respiratory therapy labs.

 He started their sleep disorders lab and assisted in the development of the Hyperbaric Medicine Department. Dr. Champion continued to practice pulmonary and critical-care medicine at Carraway until its closure in 2008 and as a member of Norwood Clinic until his retirement in 2018.

Richard married the former Shannon Page of Gadsden, AL on March 1, 1969. They have one son, John.

Besides his love of medicine, he loved Auburn University where he was a proud Golden Eagle and a member of the College of Science and Mathematics (COSAM) Dean’s Leadership Council. 

His hobbies and interests were many: history, travel, literature, science, and he was an especially avid fly-fisherman. The friends he made and the times they spent on some of the world’s most beautiful rivers were among his fondest memories. Many trout and salmon of the world may now be relieved.

Richard had a subtle but sharp sense of humor and was known for his kindness and gentle demeanor. 

He is survived by wife Shannon Champion (Birmingham, AL), son John Champion (Los Angeles, CA), nephew William Purvis (Rockledge, FL), nieces Ann Marie Salamone Santillo (Philadelphia, PA) and Amanda Salamone Olcott (Washington DC), sister-in-law Mary Margaret Page (Rockledge, FL), brother-in-law Dr. Bernard P. Salamone (Springfield, VA), and extended family including several grand nieces and nephews.  

Dr. Champion was predeceased by his parents and his sister Marjorie Champion Salamone.

The family is grateful for the care he received at Grandview Medical Center and by Compassus Hospice. They are also particularly thankful for the professional, compassionate, and loving care he received while at home.

A memorial and celebration of life will take place on Wednesday, July 12 at 2 P.M. at South Highland Presbyterian Church in Birmingham with a reception to follow.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for consideration of the following causes in Dr. Champion’s memory:

Auburn University Foundation: COSAM Dean’s Discretionary Fund https://auburngiving.org/how-to-give/

University of Alabama at Birmingham, Heersink School of Medicine https://www.uab.edu/medicine/home/give/ways-to-give

Cahaba River Society https://cahabariversociety.org/donations/donation/