Remembering William P. Mulligan, M.D.

Family and friends are remembering William P. Mulligan, M.D., and sharing this with his community:

Bill and his two brothers, Jim and Don, were raised working on their father Bill Sr.’s modest 20-acre farm in Marysville, breeding chickens for sale during the Great Depression. He was skipped ahead in grade school, missing second grade, thus graduating Seattle Prep at the age of 16. His devout mother Ada wanted him to attend Seattle University. Never telling her that Seattle University had offered him a scholarship, he chose to attend the University of Washington instead. He barely made it to McGill University Medical School in Montreal, Canada, to start his first year, as he was stuck in Alaska working his summer job on Kodiak Island for the U of W Fisheries Department, rubbing elbows with grizzly bears, as he measured and weighed dead salmon after they spawned.

Graduating medical school, where he was elected to the medical honorary society AOA, he joined the US Navy as a Flight Surgeon and Ophthalmologist, retiring as a commander after 9 years. He then moved his family to West Seattle, where he practiced Ophthalmology and was an active member of the West Seattle medical community for 46 years, finally retiring in 2011 at the age of 81.

He and his wife were happily married for 62 years. Penny is a successful and prolific artist and sculptor, with personality and work ethic strong enough to match Bill’s. Together they raised 3 children – Bill Jr., a solar engineer; Tom, who followed in his father’s footsteps to take over his practice; Patty, who is a talented artist like her mother. Bill took his young family on many ski and backpacking vacations and it was almost always an adventure. He continued his passion for walking with daily trips to Lincoln Park with his Jack Russells.

Bill’s passions were birdwatching and travel. He and Penny traveled the world on bird-watching expeditions, visiting all seven continents. They had many memorable adventures, from climbing Mayan ruins in Guatemala, riding camels in Egypt, to crossing the South Ocean to Antarctica, to birdwatching in the jungles of Borneo and the Amazon. Also – volunteering to perform cataract surgery in Nigeria.

Bill was omnilegent, consuming enormous quantities of books, magazines, newspapers, and medical journals, his entire life. Bill lived a rich and full life and will be remembered by his wife Penny, his 3 children Bill Jr. (Kim), Tom (Suzie), and Patty, brother Don, and 6 grandchildren Hedy, Daniel, Anya, Cael, Xander, and Kylie. He will also be remembered by the patients he treated with expert care and compassion for many years.

(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries by request, free of charge. Please email the text, and a photo if available, to

6 Replies to "Remembering William P. Mulligan, M.D."

  • Al King April 30, 2021 (9:30 am)

    Was my eye doctor from my 1st glasses in 6th grade at Genesee Hill(1967) until he retired. WONDERFUL dr.

  • HS April 30, 2021 (10:08 am)

    What an inspiring life! Thank you for sharing especially at a time when so many of us have feel ungrounded. There is so much we can do in this lifetime and, for me, it was wonderful to be reminded of that. And thank you to Bill!

  • Mary Hansen April 30, 2021 (10:31 am)

    He was my eye doctor for many years. He was kind and very knowledgeable. Always made me feel so comfortable. It was a joy to go see him. So sorry for the families loss. I know he will be missed.

  • BRN April 30, 2021 (10:43 am)

    Dr Mulligan was also my eye doctor for 50+ years. I always had fun on my visits to the WS Eye Clinic – great staff – and I enjoyed talking to Dr Mulligan. I was in my 40’s when I lamented having to take my glasses off to file my nails, he said “well, you can’t stop father time”. Makes me smile to this day!

  • Don Mulligan April 30, 2021 (12:13 pm)

    What a wonderful tribute to Bill! He was always a great brother to look up to and a great role model. Life on the farm in the 30’s wasn’t always easy, but it was a great learning experience and Bill guided Jim & I through the worst and best of it.  I will miss him.

  • 1994 April 30, 2021 (9:03 pm)

    A long life well lived. Dr Mulligan was my ophthalmologist until he retired but I stayed with the clinic and his son became my doctor there. 

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