James Keith Chier, M.D.

November 11, 1940 to November 12, 2017

James Keith Chier, M.D. (Jim) passed away November 12, 2017 after traumatic brain injury complications.  Jim was born the second of three children in Los Angeles on November 11, 1940, to Reuben Donald Chier, M.D. and Florence Friedman Chier.  His family included older brother Richard and younger sister Susan.  Jim is survived by his loving wife Debra J. Coleman, his sister Susan Asher, and his two sons, John and Andrew Chier.

Jim grew up in Beverly Hills and attended Beverly Hills High School where he was an all-around athlete, participating in football, track, wrestling, shot put and tennis.  He graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1962, and then went on to the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, where he earned his Degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1966.  Jim completed his first year internship at Los Angeles County General Hospital in 1967.  He also earned a Physician’s and Surgeon’s Certificate from the Board of Medical Examiners of the State of California and was certified as a Diplomate of the National Board of Medical Examiners.

Following his first-year Medicine residency at Los Angeles County Medical Center, Jim enlisted in the U.S. Army as an Internist.  He served in active duty during the Viet Nam Conflict for over six years and was awarded a National Defense Service Medal.  Jim completed his second-year residency at Walter Reed Army Hospital, Washington, D.C. with a Fellowship in Cardiology and General Medicine.  In 1972, Jim completed his Fellowship at the U.C. San Francisco Hospital, where he specialized in Rheumatology.  He also achieved double Board Certifications:  American Board of Internal Medicine Diplomate and Rheumatology.

From 1972-1974, Jim actively served in many capacities:  He was Chief, Rheumatic Disease at Letterman Army Medical Center; was in charge of the two-year Rheumatology Fellowship Training Program at the Presidio of San Francisco; was the Clinical Instructor of Medicine at U.C. San Francisco (1972-1975); and, was Consultant in Rheumatology at San Joaquin General Hospital in Stockton, CA.

After moving to San Diego in 1975, Jim continued his medical career at San Diego Internal Medicine Group and Scripps Clinic before founding Arthritis & Internal Medicine Specialists.  He served as Chief of Medicine at Sharp Memorial Hospital (1980-1982) and served on Sharp Memorial’s Medical Executive Board (1980-1983).  Later Jim was Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at U.C. San Diego (1987-1992).

During his career, Jim was respected by his colleagues as the consummate physician, who blended intelligence, competency and his exceptional skills with warmth, subtle humor, and genuine caring.  He put quality back in their lives.  He was always cheerful.  His patients respected his knowledge stating “he was the kindest most humane doctor ever; he was one with a ‘brain and large heart’ whose generous spirit gave his all.”  Dr. Chier spent decades deeply caring for everyone both personally and medically.  He was known for his diagnostic skills which were “uncanny and superior to any other physician”.  He had personal interest, commitment, compassion and attention for all his patients, spending as much time as necessary, treating all patients as valuable individuals, not a case number.

Jim loved spending time outdoors and maintained an outstanding fitness regimen.  In 1985, Jim earned a Certificate of Achievement for completing the Milford Track, a 55 kilometre trail across New Zealand; and, he was awarded for his fortitude completing the Yosemite High Sierra Loop, a Seven-Day Hiking Trip around the High Sierra Camps covering 52 mountain miles, drenching storms, and inspiring scenery.  Jim loved biking, swimming, scuba diving and traveling with Debra as well as working out in his complete home gym.

Dr. Chier, “You are a one in a million—or more, an exceptional doctor, husband, father and friend.  No one will take your place.  We miss You!”

Celebration of Life

  • Date: December 16, 2017
  • Time: 1:00 PM
  • Location: Sharp Mary Birch Hospital
  • Address: 3075 Health Center Drive San Diego CA 92123
  • Directions: Sharp Mary Birch Hospital

Service is at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital (OPP Classroom).

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