Obituaries in Panama City, FL | Panama City News Herald (2024)

Dr. Keith Michael Zwingelberg passed unexpectedly on Saturday, May 25, 2024, while doing what he loved, spending time with family and gardening at their property in Panama City, Florida.

Known affectionately as Papa to his grandchildren and Dr. Z to his many patients and friends, Keith is survived by his wife of 49 years, the love of his life, Gwenn, son Robbie Zwingelberg and his wife Emily and grandchildren Zayne and Zeva, son Austin Zwingelberg and his wife Stephanie and grandchildren Alexis, Aiden, and Addison, son-in-law Joshua Scribner and his wife Lauren and grandchildren Gavin and Olivia and bonus granddaughter Kalani Dempsey, all of Panama City, Florida. He is also survived by his brother Mark Zwingelberg and his wife Margie of Lakeland Florida, brother Dale Zwingelberg and his wife Kim, of Juneau, Alaska, and sister Sheri Crowley of Phoenix, Arizona. Part of a large and loving extended family, Keith is survived by numerous brothers- and sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews, too many to mention. Keith is preceded in death by his daughter, Cassy Zwingelberg Scribner, father, Dwayne Zwingelberg, mother, Inez Zwingelberg Wynne, step-father, Sydney Jackson Wynne, and mother- and father-in-law, Robert and Helen Fenwick.

Keith was born on September 28, 1953, in Mora, Minnesota. Following the death of his father in 1963, Keith’s mom relocated the family to Phoenix, Arizona, where he graduated from Maryvale High School in 1971.

Keith met Gwenn during his senior year at Maryvale High School and their life-long love story began. Following graduation from high school, Keith received a commission to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Gwenn moved to Maryland after graduating from high school to be closer to him while he attended the Academy. Keith graduated from the Naval Academy in June of 1975 as an Ensign. He and Gwenn were married a few weeks later at St. Borromeo Roman Catholic Church in Peoria, Arizona on June 14, 1975. Following their wedding, they moved to Tucson, Arizona where Keith attended the University of Arizona College of Medicine, graduating in 1978. He then received a residency in family practice at the Naval Hospital at Camp Pendleton, California. While living in California, he and Gwenn welcomed their first son, Robbie in 1978.

After completing his first year of residency, Keith decided to pursue training as a medical officer in undersea medicine. The family moved to Washington, DC in 1979 where Keith entered the Naval Undersea Medical Institute. Their second child, daughter Cassy, was born in Bethesda, Maryland in 1980. When Cassy was just a few weeks old, the family relocated to Panama City, Florida where Keith entered the brand new Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center as a medical officer. During their time in Panama City, Gwenn’s parents and family visited and fell in love with the area. It was not surprising that many of the family eventually relocated to the Florida Panhandle in later years.

In 1981, the family returned to the Naval Hospital at Camp Pendleton where Keith completed his family practice residency in 1983. He then received a commission to practice medicine so the family remained in California for another two years. It was during this time that their youngest child, son Austin, was born in 1983.

In 1985, Keith and Gwenn moved their young family back to Panama City where Keith served as a medical officer at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center until 1986 and as part of the Navy Experimental Diving Unit until 1989.

In 1989, the Zwingelbergs moved to Gainesville, Florida where Keith completed his residency in anesthesiology at the University of Florida in 1992. He then went on to complete a Fellowship in pain management. During their time in Gainesville, Gwenn earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology with honors from UF. The Zwingelbergs remained die-hard Gator fans from then on. Their daughter, Cassy, and son-in-law, Josh followed in their footsteps earning degrees from UF as well.

From 1992 until 1994 the family lived in Jacksonville, Florida where Keith completed his Naval career at the Naval Hospital JAX. Commander Keith Michael Zwingelberg, MC, USN retired from active duty in 1995 after twenty-four years of service. Following retirement, the family moved back to Panama City where Keith joined North Florida Anesthesia Group. In 2004, he and several of his closest colleagues established the Panama City Surgery Center and opened Panhandle Anesthesia.

In 2005, Keith opened Whitesands Anesthesia & Pain Management. Cassy joined her father, as office manager and nurse until her passing in 2013. His goddaughter, Nichole also worked in Uncle Keith’s office from 2009-2019. Keith retired from clinical practice in 2022 as a triple board-certified physician including certifications from The American Board of Anesthesiology, in both Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, and from The American Board of Family Medicine. Following retirement, he continued to serve in an advisory capacity in anesthesia and pain management.

During high school and at the Naval Academy, Keith was a competitive pole vaulter setting records and earning many personal bests in the sport he loved. His dedication inspired his granddaughter, Olivia to join the track team at Arnold High School as a pole vaulter. Under her Papa’s guidance and tutelage, she made it all the way to state in 2024! Grandson, Zayne is also active in the sport, and his sister, Zeva is set to follow in her brother's footsteps this fall. Keith dedicated many hours to coaching them, as well as volunteering as a coach throughout Bay County.

Keith, Gwenn, Cassy, and Austin shared a love of cycling, running, and competing. Together they completed several triathlons and events throughout the South, including the Gulf Coast Triathlon. Keith continued to train and compete throughout his life.

One of Keith's lifelong dreams was to become a published author. He achieved this goal under the pseudonym Rory Church in 2013, with the publication of his first book, HOME BY CHRISTMAS through Black Lyon Publishing. As a romantic suspense author, his second book, HOLD ME AGAIN, was the First Prize winner of the ROYAL DRAGON award for Romance. KINDRED SPIRITS the HEALERS followed in 2017 and was later released on

Keith and Gwenn loved to travel and spent much of their time after retirement traveling the world together and with close friends Misty and Dan Deana. Across 28 years of traveling together, the Zwingelbergs and Deanas visited all 7 continents culminating in their trip to Antarctica in 2023.

Throughout his life, Keith wore many hats, Naval officer, physician, business partner, athlete, coach, mentor, and friend. But it was his role as husband, father, and Papa that inspired him most. Everything he did and accomplished throughout his life was for his family. With Gwenn, his high school sweetheart and best friend by his side, Keith approached life with energy, enthusiasm, tremendous faith, and most of all love. “Inspiration comes from many corners and the trail of life often leads to curves and drop-offs never expected. But it yields the pebbles and roots of which great stories are made." — Dr. Keith Zwingelberg (as Author, Rory Church). Keith’s life was a great story and he will be greatly missed.

A viewing will be held Thursday, June 6 from 5-8 pm at Kent Forest Lawn Funeral Home, 2403 Harrison Avenue. A funeral mass will be held at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 1008 Fortune Avenue, on Friday, June 7 from 1-2 pm with military honors immediately following. A reception will be held from 2-5 pm in the church hall. All are welcome.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made on behalf of Keith to the Cassy Zwingelberg Scribner Walk by Faith Memorial Nursing Scholarship through the Gulf Coast State College Foundation or to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation through their website at

Posted online on May 30, 2024

Published in Panama City News Herald

Obituaries in Panama City, FL | Panama City News Herald (2024)


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