Peter Fletcher Binnion, 87, of West Chester, a scientist and physician who went on to specialize in cardiology and internal medicine in the Philadelphia area, died Friday, July 5, at Devon Senior Living of complications from a series of strokes.
Born in Sale, Cheshire, the United Kingdom, he grew up outside Manchester and earned a bachelor’s degree in science in 1954 from St. John’s College, Oxford University.
He earned a medical degree in 1956 from the University of London and served medical and surgical residencies in England and Canada. He completed a master’s degree, and a doctorate in physiology and biochemistry in 1963, both at Queen’s University, Ontario.
Board-certified as both an internist and a cardiologist, he was chief of cardiology at Pennsylvania Hospital in the early 1970s. When a promised catherization lab did not materialize, he resigned from the hospital in 1974, his family said.
Instead, he became an internist affiliated with Bryn Mawr Hospital, Presbyterian-University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, and Mercy Haverford Hospital, the latter until it closed in 2003.
Dr. Binnion began practicing medicine in Canada and the United Kingdom but is perhaps remembered best for seeing patients in Philadelphia, and at Primary Suburban Care offices in Newtown Square. He was there from 1975 to 2007, and was much beloved.
“Peter had a brilliant mind, yet was a down-to-earth, practical physician,” said Elizabeth Shea, his friend since 1974 and later his patient. “He had a unique ability to practice both the art and science of medicine.”
Shea said he maintained a small medical practice in his then-Newtown Square home. Those who went there were often greeted in the waiting room by Wellington, his black Labrador retriever.
“His friends became his patients and patients frequently became lifelong friends,” she said. “He never rushed and always gave great thought to every problem or concern. Frequently, after an evening appointment, friends would be invited upstairs for a personal visit and a ‘beverage’ after office hours.”
In 2012, Dr. Binnion was serving as medical director of Camp Hill Correctional Institution, a state prison, when he experienced the first in a series of strokes that ended his medical career.
Tall and urbane with an English accent, Dr. Binnion stood out wherever he went. He traveled to places such as Kathmandu in Nepal, Machu Picchu in Peru, and the Serengeti in eastern Africa. He maintained a home in Spain.
Dr. Binnion never stopped learning. He read widely about science, medicine, and history, especially World War II.
He enjoyed playing tennis and paddleball at the Aronomink Golf Club, where the fellowship was as important to him as the sport. He had a paddle shot named after him, called "the Binnion.”
He believed in civic volunteerism. As president of the Philadelphia Rotary Club, he helped found the Mayor’s Committee to provide support and professional assistance to inner-city schoolchildren.
He also contributed to a campaign against hatred and intolerance sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center. His name is listed on the Wall of Tolerance in Montgomery, Ala., his family said.
Dr. Binnion was a member of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Wayne, where he sang in the choir and was on the vestry. He was a longtime member and librarian of the Shakespeare Society of Philadelphia and a member of the British Officers’ Club.
He was married to Pamela Binnion. The couple had three children. They divorced. She died in 2010. He married Patricia Beck Binnion in 1993.
Besides his wife, Dr. Binnion is survived by children Fiona Binnion Norton, Paul Fletcher Binnion, and Mark Fletcher Binnion; stepchildren Lisa Gido and Tina Beck; seven grandchildren; six stepgrandchildren; and nieces and nephews.
A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, in the chapel at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 763 S. Valley Forge Rd., Wayne, Pa. 19087. He donated his body to science.