Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Dr. William Norris Slinger

Physician and artist William Slinger discovered hidden talent after a stroke

HOMOSASSA — The stroke cost Dr. William Slinger more than mobility. The retired dermatologist was also an accomplished artist whose paintings had twice gained him admittance to the prestigious Florida Watercolor Society.

After the stroke three years ago, Dr. Slinger cut back on weekly meetings of the Nature Coast Painters, an intimate group of two dozen or so artists.

But he couldn't quit altogether.

Dr. Slinger, who wielded a scalpel and a paintbrush with equal dexterity, died Oct. 29. He was 90.

Before the stroke, Dr. Slinger and his wife, Charlotte, traveled extensively, their truck pulling a fifth-wheel trailer. Along the way, he painted plein air, or outdoors, producing many watercolors of nature scenes from North Carolina and Maine.

He brought his work back to the Nature Coast Painters, who critiqued it.

"Bill was a purist, his work was really above and beyond," said group member Ray Jowers, who also belongs to the Florida Watercolor Society. "His paintings always had a quality to them. It was pure, the colors were great, and his presentation was very pleasing."

William Norris Slinger was born in Massillon, Ohio, the son of a railroad worker whose job was affected by the Depression. After putting himself through Ohio State University and its medical school, he served in the Army, treating soldiers returning from World War II.

He opened a dermatology practice in Rockford, Ill.

In the late 1960s, Dr. Slinger took two years off to serve in the Peace Corps in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He and his family lived on the side of Corcovado mountain, well below the statue of Christ the Redeemer. He treated other Peace Corps workers and some locals.

Dr. Slinger enjoyed the experience more than did his wife, Rosalee.

"The joke was, she kept her bag packed under the bed," said Charlotte Slinger, Dr. Slinger's second wife.

He moved to Florida in 1975, setting up a practice in Clearwater. Charlotte, a former patient in Illinois, moved to the area a couple of years later and practiced accounting.

Now divorced, he hired her to keep his books, then married her in 1984.

"His joke was, he had to marry me because I was so expensive," said Charlotte, 75.

Dr. Slinger sold his practice in 1989, then moved to Homosassa. The couple drove around the country, staying in RV campgrounds in the United States and Canada as long as they felt like it.

He always alternated between one or two books he was reading, and never missed an issue of Smithsonian magazine. Several years ago, he suffered a personal setback when a son he had tried to help, Kevin, died as a result of drug addiction.

Then came the stroke that left him partly paralyzed, unable to use his dominant right hand.

"He had to step back a little bit," said Jowers, 82.

Then Riley, his wife's 8-year-old grandson, asked Dr. Slinger to paint a tiger.

"He looked at me, and I looked at him," his wife recalled. Dr. Slinger picked up a paintbrush — with his left hand — and "sure enough, he could draw something that looked like a tiger."

He persisted. His began attending the Nature Coast group every week again. "It was therapy for him," said Jowers.

His skill painting with his nondominant hand improved. Shockingly, so did his art.

"His colors brightened up," Jowers said. "He was painting in brighter colors than he had done prior, and it really enhanced his work."

He submitted a painting of trees to the Florida Watercolor Society, which caps its membership at 100, a fraction of the number of slides sent by artists. About a month ago, the society accepted his application. The selection made Dr. Slinger a signature member, a status reserved for three-time members.

The painting, part of a Florida Watercolor Society exhibition that ends today, is hanging in the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs.

Said Jowers, "No one had ever gone from right-handed to left- and gotten into the Florida Watercolor Society."

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or ameacham@sptimes.com.

. BIOGRAPHY

Dr. William Norris Slinger

Born: June 30, 1920.

Died: Oct. 29, 2010.

Survivors: Wife Charlotte; son Kristofer Slinger and his wife Vicki; daughter Kerstin Slinger; stepdaughters Beth Brown and Laura Lachance and her husband John; stepson Craig Brown and his wife Margaret; 13 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Physician and artist William Slinger discovered hidden talent after a stroke 11/06/10 [Last modified: Saturday, November 6, 2010 9:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump sprinkles political attacks into Scout Jamboree speech

    GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Ahead of President Donald Trump's appearance Monday at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, the troops were offered some advice on the gathering's official blog: Fully hydrate. Be "courteous" and "kind." And avoid the kind of divisive chants heard during the 2016 campaign such as "build …

    President Donald Trump addresses the Boy Scouts of America's 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va., July 24, 2017. [New York Times]
  2. Trump, seething about attorney general, speculates about firing Sessions, sources say

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as he continues to rage against Sessions' decision to recuse himself from all matters related to the Russia investigation.

  3. John McCain to return to Senate for health care vote

    WASHINGTON — The Senate plans to vote Tuesday to try to advance a sweeping rewrite of the nation's health-care laws with the last-minute arrival of Sen. John McCain — but tough talk from President Donald Trump won no new public support from skeptical GOP senators for the flagging effort that all but …

  4. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  5. Blake Snell steps up, but Rays lose to Orioles anyway (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell stepped up when he had to Monday and delivered an impressive career-high seven-plus innings for the Rays. That it wasn't enough in what ended up a 5-0 loss to the Orioles that was their season-high fifth straight is symptomatic of the mess they are in right now.

    Tim Beckham stands hands on hips after being doubled off first.