Many Mainers remember the infamous Sonny Liston-Cassius Clay heavyweight championship match, held in 1965, in Lewiston. They know Clay, later Muhammad Ali, knocked out Liston in the first round in what came to be called “the phantom punch.”

Fewer people remember Liston’s physician, Dr. Raphael Turgeon of Westbrook, who was Portland’s boxing commissioner for many years. After telling a newspaper that Liston was fit to fight, he was misquoted as saying Liston was “the fittest man I’ve ever examined.”

But boxing was only one of the varied interests of Dr. Turgeon, who practiced family medicine in Westbrook for 30 years, before retiring in 1986.

Dr. Turgeon died on Oct. 25 in Cape Coral, Fla. He was 86.

Dr. Turgeon is being remembered by his family as a dedicated doctor who carried on the tradition of house calls and nursing home visits, long after most physicians had abandoned the practice. Sometimes, he brought along one of his five sons.

“I remember going to see patients and one lady had a parrot,” said James Turgeon, the last son still living in Westbrook.

Not only did patients have pets, they sometimes gave them to Dr. Turgeon in lieu of payment. One patient gave him four white pigeons, and the family enjoyed building a coop for them. A couple of years later, the four pigeons had turned into 40, James Turgeon recalled, and Dad decided they were a nuisance. But these were homing pigeons; releasing them 60 miles away did no good.

“They always found their way home,” James Turgeon said.

The Turgeon home was always filled with music, especially the sounds of Perry Como, Mario Lanza and Frank Sinatra. Dr. Turgeon’s favorite song was “San Francisco,” sung by Tony Bennett.

Dr. Turgeon also was an avid golfer and sportsman. His extended family often joined on yearly “guy-only” fishing trips to Moosehead Lake. They stayed at the same hunting camp in Greenville.

“We have many fond memories of hauling in beautiful trout in the silhouette of Mount Kineo,” James Turgeon said.

Recently, James’ brother, John, bought a house by the lake, but his dad was unable to visit before he died.

“My father would have loved it, but he never made it up there,” James Turgeon said.

Staff writer Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or

[email protected]