1950 - 1959
Scroll down to see obituaries, which appear in order of DMS class year. To go directly to any individual obituary, click on the name here, listed in alphabetical order.
Walter R. Anyan, Jr., '59
Charles B. Carpenter, DMS '56
William R. Collins, DMS '51
William J Cummings, Jr., DMS '50
John A. Hartwig, DMS ’50
George B. Johnson, Jr., DMS '53
Stuart A. Kay, DMS ’51
Richard B. Kearsley, DMS '50
George B. McClary, DMS '51
Warren C. Nagle ‘51
E. Floyd Robinson, Jr., DMS '59
James A. Rose, DMS '54
Robert L. Spears, DMS ’55
Richard P. Spencer, DMS '52
William H. Thomas, DMS '59
James W. Thorpen, DMS '52
Stanley van den Noort, DMS '52
William Z. Yahr, DMS ’59
William J. Cummings, Jr.
William J. Cummings, a retired anesthesiologist, died on May 10, 2010 at the age of 83.
As a Dartmouth undergraduate, he interrupted college to enlist in the Navy and served in the U.S. Naval Reserve from 1945 to 1947. He graduated from Dartmouth in 1948 and from DMS in 1950, then completed his MD at Boston University (1952). After a year’s internship at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y., Dr. Cummings returned to the Hanover area to pursue residencies in surgery and in anesthesiology at the VA Hospital in White River Junction, Vt. Following his training, he remained at the VA as a staff physician and assistant chief of anesthesiology, while also teaching at DMS as an instructor in physiological sciences pharmacology.
In 1963, Dr. Cummings left Hanover to join the staff of Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Mass. In his early years there, he taught in Mercy’s school for nurse anesthetists and helped to set up a cardiac treatment center at the hospital. In 1970 he was appointed chief of anesthesiology at Mercy, a position he held for nearly 15 years. Dr. Cummings was a Fellow of the American College of Anesthesia.
He is survived by his wife, Alice; his children Peter, Carol, Chris (DC’78), Bob, and Steve; 13 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
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John A. Hartwig
Dr. John A. “Jack” Hartwig, a retired orthopaedic surgeon, died at the age of 86 on November 14, 2011.
Upon graduating from St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, Wis., in 1943 at the age of 18, Dr. Hartwig enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he fought in three major campaigns while serving with the infantry in Europe during World War II. After the war, he entered Dartmouth College and graduated in 1949 as a pre-med major. Following Dartmouth Medical School, he earned his MD from the University of Michigan in 1953. He returned to Hanover for a rotating internship at Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital, then completed residencies in general surgery and orthopaedic surgery at the Mayo Clinic.
Throughout his career, Dr. Hartwig primarily worked in private practice with Orthopaedic Consultants, PA, in Minneapolis, Minn. He was also affiliated with Fairview Hospital in Minneapolis for 35 years, serving as chief of staff in 1969, and was an assistant clinical professor of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Minnesota. After developing an interest in cervical spine injuries, he became a pioneer in this field. To his family, patients, and colleagues, he was known for his integrity, kindness, and humility.
Dr. Hartwig is survived by his wife of 59 years, Mary; three sons, David, Paul, and Steve (DC ’88); two daughters, Ann and Martha; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandson.
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Richard B. Kearsley
Dr. Richard B. Kearsley, a retired pediatrician who was considered an expert in child behavior and development, died on July 1, 2011, at the age of 86.
Dr. Kearsley earned his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College in 1949 and after graduating from Dartmouth Medical School, received his MD from Harvard. He then completed a rotating internship at Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital and a residency in pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital. He earned a PhD in personality and child development from Harvard in 1972.
Dr. Kearsley established a private practice in Norwell, Mass., in 1956. During his career, he also served as chief of the child behavior unit at Mass General and co-director of infant development services at New England Medical Center. He held an appointment as an associate professor of pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine. In 1979 he was listed in the publication, The Best Doctors in the U.S.
Among his publications is the widely-recognized book, Infancy: Its Place in Human Development, which he co-authored with Jerome Kagan, a pioneer in developmental psychology, and Philip R. Zelago, an authority on infant-toddler information processing and the development of treatment procedures for children with autism. It was first published in 1989 and is still in print.
Dr. Kearsley is survived by his wife of 14 years, Carmella Roy Kearsley; his sons Richard and Michael; daughters Ann, Jeanne, and Martha; and five grandchildren. He was predeceased by his first wife, Nancy Conlin Kearsley, who died in 1989.
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William R. Collins
William (“Bill”) Collins, a beloved pediatrician to children of the New Bedford, Mass., area for more than 30 years, died on November 16, 2009. He was 83.
A graduate of Dartmouth College and DMS, Dr. Collins went on to complete his medical degree at Harvard. Following an internship and residency in pediatrics at the University of Michigan he and his young family moved to South Dartmouth, Mass., in 1956. He opened a private pediatric practice in nearby New Bedford, which he maintained until illness forced him to close the practice in 1988.
The Collinses then moved to Hawaii, where for several years Dr. Collins was an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Hawaii and medical director for the State of Hawaii’s Child Protective Services Team. Most recently, they had been living in Port Ludlow, Wash.
Dr. Collins is survived by his wife, Barbara; two daughters, Nancy Hahn and Kathy Gagliardi; three sons, Jim, Bruce (DC ’80), and John; and 11 grandchildren.
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Stuart A. Kay
Dr. Stuart A. Kay, a retired ophthalmologist, died on July 11, 2011, at the age of 86.
After graduating from Deerfield Academy in 1943, Stuart Kay entered the U.S. Army and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Transportation Corps. He spent two years on active sea duty in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean before enrolling at Dartmouth College, where it took him just three years to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and zoology. He attended Dartmouth Medical School before returning to his native Montreal, where he earned his MD from McGill University in 1953.
Dr. Kay trained for two years in general surgery and three years in ophthalmology at Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, completing his post-graduate studies in 1958. He then moved to New Canaan, Conn., where he established a solo ophthalmology practice and also taught at Yale School of Medicine. After retiring in 1994, he and his wife purchased and restored an old farmhouse in Center Sandwich, N.H., where they spent their summers.
Dr. Kay is survived by his wife of 63 years, Betty; his sons, David, James, and Jonathan; his daughter, Jacqueline; and eight grandchildren, including Abigail Brown, DC ’07. He was predeceased by his son, Stuart A. Kay, Jr., who died at the age of 58 in 2007.
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George B. McClary
George B. McClary ’51, a retired primary care physician, died on December 3, 2009. He was 82 years old.
He joined the U.S. Navy upon graduating from high school in 1945 and served until the end of the war, then matriculated at Dartmouth College. He graduated from Dartmouth in 1950, from DMS in 1951, and received his MD from Northwestern University in 1953. He did his residency in internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
In 1958, Dr. McClary moved to Santa Rosa, Calif., where he established a private practice, from which he retired 25 years later in 1983. He also served as regional medical director for State Farm Insurance, medical director for the State Department of Rehabilitation, and medical director for North Bay Corporate Health Service. Dr. McClary and his wife, Roberta, were founders of the Sonoma County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an interest that stemmed from their son Philip’s schizophrenia and a desire to help other families cope with mental illness.
Dr. McClary is also remembered as a lifelong student of and advocate for the firefighting profession. Often among the first to arrive when a fire call went out, he was named an honorary Santa Rosa fire chief in 1971. His on-the-scene photos and films of fires documented fire fighting in the Santa Rosa region and were used for training purposes by local fire departments and distributed throughout the country.
He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Roberta; three sons—Steve, Philip, and David; a daughter, Ellen; and five grandchildren.
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Warren C. Nagle, '51
Warren C. “Bud” Nagle, a retired urologist, died at the age of 86 at his home in Athens, Pennsylvania, on January 20, 2013.
Dr. Nagle graduated from Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, in 1945 and served in the U.S. Army before enrolling at Dartmouth College. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with an AB in chemistry and zoology in 1950 and earned his diploma from Dartmouth Medical School the following year. He received an MD from Harvard in 1953, followed by a rotating internship at Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, and a four-year residency in urology at the University of Iowa Hospital. After completing his residency in 1958, Dr. Nagle opened a private practice and later joined the Guthrie Clinic in Athens, Pennsylvania, in 1962 as an associate urologist. In 1967, he was appointed chief of urology and served in that position for 24 years before his retirement in 1991.
Dr. Nagle held academic appointments as an associate professor of clinical surgery at the former Hahnemann Medical College (now Drexel University College of Medicine) in Philadelphia and as an assistant professor of urology at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York. He was a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the American Medical Association, the American Urological Association, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and the Pennsylvania Medical Association.
Dr. Nagle is survived by his wife of 59 years, Ardelle Hemmig Nagle; his son, Warren C. Nagle, Jr. (DC ’76); daughters Sheryl E. Nagle, MD, and Elizabeth A. Nagle; nine grandchildren; and a brother, Frank O. Nagle, Jr. He was predeceased by his brother, W. William Nagle, MD (DC ’46).
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Richard P. Spencer
Richard P. Spencer, a noted teacher, researcher, and clinician in the field of nuclear medicine, died on March 13, 2011 at the age of 81.
Following his graduation from Dartmouth College in 1951, Dr. Spencer began his medical studies at Dartmouth Medical School. After earning his medical degree from the University of Southern California in 1954, he trained in internal medicine at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, followed by 26 months of active duty as a member of the U.S. Navy Medical Corps. In 1961 he earned a PhD in biochemistry from Harvard Medical School.
After serving on the faculties of the University of Buffalo School of Medicine and the Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Spencer began his 32-year service as a professor and chairman of the Department of Nuclear Medicine at the University of Connecticut Medical School, where he started the Nuclear Medicine Residency Program. Over the course of his career, he produced over 900 scientific publications and authored nine books, and he spoke frequently about his work and research.
He is survived by his wife Gwendolyn, whom he married in 1956, and his daughter, Carolyn. He was predeceased by his daughters Jennifer and Priscilla.
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James W. Thorpen
James (“Jim”) Thorpen died on October 30, 2010. A pathologist and county coroner in Casper, Wyo., he was affectionately known to the community as “Doc."
After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1951 and Dartmouth Medical School in 1952, he finished his medical degree at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1954. He then took a rotating internship at St. Luke’s and Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colo.
Having been commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1951, Dr. Thorpen served on active duty from 1955 to 1957 aboard the U.S.S. Coral Sea as the flight surgeon. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Lieutenant Commander in 1963.
Following his active duty, Dr. Thorpen returned to St. Luke's and Children's Hospital for a residency in anatomic and clinical pathology, where he was named the Maytag Fellow in Pathology.
Upon completing his training in 1961, he and his wife, Ellen, moved to Casper to begin his practice in pathology at the Natrona County Memorial Hospital, where he worked for 32 years. Dr. Thropen served as deputy coroner of Fremont County, Wyoming, from 1961 to 1979, and in 1982, he was elected Natrona County Coroner. He held this position for 27 years, working in close contact with law enforcement and serving as an expert witness in pathology in civil and criminal court trials. His work resulted in the first Wyoming conviction based on DNA evidence, in a case that had been unsolved for 16 years.
Dr. Thorpen was an educator in the broad sense of the word. He is remembered as a person willing to share his knowledge in both formal and informal settings, and who always took time to answer questions from anybody who asked. Throughout his professional career he lectured at meetings, schools, the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy, and any place that asked. Dr. Thorpen held academic appointments as an adjunct professor at the University of Wyoming School of Medical Technology and clinical associate professor of family practice/pathology at the University of Wyoming College of Health Sciences. He was a Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists, a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and a member of the National Association of Medical Examiners.
Dr. Thorpen was predeceased by his wife, Ellen. He is survived by his three sons and their families: Charles; James and his wife, Ann; Patrick; and seven grandchildren.
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Stanley van den Noort
Stanley van den Noort ’52, a neurologist, died on September 16, 2009 at the age of 79. Dr. Van den Noort was a pioneer in multiple sclerosis research, education, and treatment.
After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1951 and from DMS in 1952, he received his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1954. He took his internship and started a residency at Boston City Hospital. After two years, he was called into military service and became a lieutenant in the USNR Medical Corps as well as head of neurology at the Naval Hospital in Chelsea, Mass. In 1958, he returned to Boston City Hospital to complete residencies in neurology and neuropathology, followed by a research fellowship in neurochemistry.
He began his career as an assistant neurologist at the University Hospitals of Cleveland and a member of the faculty at Case Western Reserve. In 1970, he joined the California College of Medicine at the University of California, Irvine as a professor of neurology, as well as the school’s only full-time neurologist. Three years later, he was appointed dean of the College of Medicine. During his 12-year tenure as dean, from 1973 to 1985, the school acquired UCI Medical Center, expanded its neurology department, and established a multiple sclerosis center on campus. Following his deanship, he became the chairman of the neurology department at the school.
For decades, he helped lead the way in multiple sclerosis research, patient care, and education, advocating for early and aggressive treatment. His research focused on the immune reactions that cause MS and on finding new ways to diagnose it early. He pushed for more funding of neurological research and along with one of his patients, James Roosevelt (President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s son), helped to persuade Congress to designate the 1990s as the “Decade of the Brain.” He continued to care for MS patients well into his seventies.
In 2005, Dr. van den Noort was the first recipient of UC Irvine’s Stanley van den Noort and Elliot M. Frohman Mentoring Award, and in 2008, the University honored him with its highest award, the UC Irvine Medal. He was a diplomate of the American Board of Neurology, a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology and of the American College of Physicians, and a member of the American Medical Association. He was chairman of the National Medical Advisory Board of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Society’s first chief medical officer.
He is survived by his wife, June, a graduate of the Mary Hitchcock School of Nursing; daughters Susanne, Kathy, and Betsy; sons Eric and Peter; eight grandchildren; and a great-grandchild. He was predeceased by his brother Gordon, DC ’44.
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George B. Johnson, Jr.
George Blake Johnson, a retired internist who also specialized in geriatrics, died on December 22, 2011, at the age of 80.
From the time he received his first chemistry set as a birthday gift at the age of eight, Dr. Johnson knew he wanted to be a doctor. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1951 and from Dartmouth Medical School the following year, he earned his MD from Boston University School of Medicine in 1955. Following an internship in internal medicine at Case Western Reserve Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, he served in the Army Medical Corps in France from 1956 to 1958. After his discharge, he returned to Hanover, where he completed a residency in internal medicine at Mary Hitchcock and affiliated hospitals from 1958 to 1961.
Immediately following his residency, Dr. Johnson established a private practice in Bridgeport, Conn., where he treated patients until he retired in 1999. During this time, he was also an attending physician at Bridgeport Hospital and St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport and on the staff of St. Joseph’s Manor, a care and rehabilitation center in Trumbull, Conn. Throughout his career, he was known for treating his patients with great kindness and compassion.
Dr. Johnson is survived by his two sons and their families—Andrew and his wife, Patty; David and his wife, Laurel; and four grandchildren – Michael, Kevin, Liam, and Ava.
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James A. Rose
Dr. James A. “Jim” Rose, retired from a research career in molecular biology at the NIH, died on October 3, 2011, at the age of 80.
Dr. Rose graduated from Dartmouth College in 1953 and Dartmouth Medical School in 1954 before earning his MD from Harvard in 1956. After completing an internship at Mass General Hospital in 1957, he joined the United States Public Health Service (PHS) and was assigned to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where he began work on DNA synthesis. After two years with PHS, he went to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Mo., where he completed a residency in internal medicine. He then returned to the NIH and worked there for more than 30 years, until he retired in 1993.
Dr. Rose was a Commissioned Officer in the PHS and was recognized for his significant contributions during his career at the NIH, where he directed his own molecular biology lab in the Laboratory of Biology of Viruses, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. His work centered on gene expression and the causes of disease, with a focus on herpes, adenoviruses, and parvoviruses.
Dr. Rose is survived by his wife of 22 years, Cathie; his sons and stepsons, David, Michael, Jeffrey, Peter, Michael, and Adam; and 13 grandchildren.
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Robert L. Spears
Robert “Bob” L. Spears, a former pediatrician, died on June 23, 2012, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, at the age of 80. He was a long-time faculty member at the University of Southern California (USC) Keck School of Medicine and a senior medical administrator at several USC-affiliated hospitals.
Dr. Spears graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College in 1954 and attended Dartmouth Medical School before earning his M.D. from the USC School of Medicine in 1957. He then completed a rotating internship at the USC Medical Center and a residency in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. From 1960 to 1962, he studied neonatology in Paris, France, on NATO and NIH fellowships. A member of the U.S. Army Reserves,he was honorably discharged as a first lieutenant in 1968.
Dr. Spears joined the USC faculty in 1962 and taught generations of medical students and residents until his retirement in 2002. His hospital administrative positions included serving as medical director of Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center and of Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. He enjoyed interviewing medical school applicants and played a crucial role in the creation of department faculty practice plans that were essential when the newly completed USC University Hospital (now Keck Hospital of USC) opened in 1991.
Dr. Spears was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha in 1972, received the Distinguished Service Award from the USC School of Medicine in 1981, and was a fellow of the American College of Physician Executives. He was the author of over 25 articles in leading medical journals in the fields of neonatology, medical education, and health. In addition, he served on the boards of numerous organizations, including the First Visitor program at Peak Vista Community Health Centers, Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, and the Colorado Springs Memorial Hospital.
Dr. Spears is survived by his wife, Mali Hsu, whom he married in 1997; two of his three children, Robert (DC ’81) and Carolyn; Mali’s son, Wei; five grandchildren; and a brother, step-brother, and step-sister. He was predeceased by his first wife, Ann, and his daughter, Elizabeth.
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Charles B. Carpenter
Dr. Charles B. “Bernie” Carpenter died at the age of 88 on September 30, 2011. He was a pioneer in the development of clinical organ transplantation and helped develop the new medical field of immunogenetics, which grew out of transplantation immunology research.
A pre-med major at Dartmouth, he graduated Summa cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and as a Rufus Choate Scholar in 1955. After Dartmouth Medical School, he received his MD from Harvard in 1958. From 1958 to 1960, he interned and was a resident in internal medicine at Cornell University Bellevue Hospital in New York, N.Y. He served as a medical officer in the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan, from 1960 to 1962 and then returned to complete residencies in nephrology and immunology at Harvard University and Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (now Brigham and Women’s Hospital) in Boston, Mass.
Dr. Carpenter was associated with Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s for 44 years. Early in his career at Brigham’s, he was a member of the team that had performed the first organ transplants, led by Dr. Joseph Murray, who later went on to win the Nobel Prize for his work on transplantation, and renal division director and transplant pioneer Dr. John Merrill.
In addition to leading an extensive research program as director of the Laboratory of Immunogenetics and Transplantation at Brigham’s, he was senior physician in the Renal Division and a professor of medicine at Harvard. Dr. Carpenter mentored the careers of two generations of physicians and scientists and trained over 60 postdoctoral fellows, many of whom are now leaders in academic nephrology. Students and colleagues described him as a “marvelous human being who was always patient, kind, encouraging, positive, and calm” and “genuinely enthusiastic about the science [we] were doing.” In his honor, the Renal Division of Brigham and Women’s Hospital has established the Charles B. Carpenter Transplant Fellowship to be awarded to a renal transplant fellow who will pursue advanced training in transplantation.
In 1966, Dr. Carpenter received the first of what would be many awards during his career – a Ten Outstanding Young Men of Greater Boston Award. In 2004, he received the John C. Peters Award of the American Society of Nephrology for his research contributions, and in 2005, he received the David M. Hume Memorial Award of the National Kidney Foundation, the highest honor given by that organization to a scientist-clinician in the field of kidney and urologic diseases. He was recognized by his undergraduate class at Dartmouth College in 2008 as the recipient of the Class of 1955 Award.
Dr. Carpenter was a founding member of the Transplantation Society, the American Society of Nephrology, the American Society of Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics, and the American Society of Transplantation, serving as president of the latter two. He was the author of more than 380 papers and textbook chapters.
Dr. Carpenter is survived by his wife of 55 years, Sandra Davis Carpenter; his sons Bradford (DC ’82) and Scott; and four grandchildren.
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Walter R. Anyan, Jr., '59
Walter R. “Walt” Anyan, Jr., a retired professor of pediatrics at Yale Medical School, died on February 16, 2013, at the age of 76.
Dr. Anyan was a graduate of Dartmouth College and Dartmouth Medical School. After earning his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1961, he interned at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY, and did his residency at Boston Children’s Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital, London, from 1962 to 1964. Dr. Anyan then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in dermatology at Yale-New Haven Hospital in 1968.
In 1981, he became a professor of pediatrics at Yale Medical School, a position he held until he retired after 48 years of service in academic and clinical medicine. During his time at Yale, he was the founding section chief of adolescent medicine in the Department of Pediatrics and led the program for nearly 40 years. He also served as the director of pediatric clerkships for many years.
Dr. Anyan was an examiner for the American Board of Pediatrics, served in various roles for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and also served as a director of the American Board of Emergency Medicine, from 1995 to 2003.
Dr. Anyan is survived by his wife of 46 years, Carol Ann Smith Anyan; two sons, Walter Ruddy Anyan III and Douglas Blair Anyan; and a granddaughter.
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E. Floyd Robinson, Jr.
Neurosurgeon E. Floyd Robinson died on May 25, 2010 at the age of 74.
Dr. Robinson graduated from Dartmouth College in 1958, from DMS in 1959, and received his MD from Harvard in 1961. He went on to do an internship year at Jefferson Davis Hospital in Houston, Tex., followed by residencies in general surgery at Boston City Hospital (1962-63) and in neurosurgery at the Baylor Affiliated Residency Program (1963-67). During this time he also spent six months in London as an assistant house physician in neurology at the National Hospital, Queens Square.
Following his training, he spent two years in U.S. Army, first in Vietnam at the 24th Evacuation Hospital, where he was as chief of the neurosurgical service, and then at Walter Reed. His service earned him both the Soldier’s Medal and the Bronze Star.
Dr. Robinson then settled in Houston, where he spent the rest of his career. In addition to maintaining a solo private practice in neurosurgery, he held appointments as assistant clinical professor of neurosurgery at Baylor College of Medicine and as deputy chief of neurosurgery at The Methodist Hospital in Houston and was associated with several other Houston hospitals. Among his various professional associations, he was a member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, and the American Medical Association.
In recent years, Dr. Robinson was retired from his surgical practice but remained professionally active doing neurosurgical consultations and workers compensation exams throughout the state.
He is survived by his wife, June, and sons David and Christopher.
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William H. Thomas
Dr. William H. “Bill” Thomas, a retired orthopaedic surgeon and a generous donor to Dartmouth Medical School and Dartmouth College, died on November 18, 2011, at the age of 81.
Originally a member of the Dartmouth College class of 1952, Thomas qualified for the Naval Aviation Cadet program at the beginning of his junior year. More interested in flying airplanes than in his academic studies, and certain that he would be called up at any moment, he gave scant attention to his course work – and flunked out.
That Dartmouth would later give him a second chance, launching him on a fulfilling career in medicine, was something he remained deeply grateful for throughout his life.
After four years of service as a dive bomber pilot and jet instrument instructor, Thomas requested re-admission to Dartmouth in order to study to become a physician. Upon returning, he found a mentor and friend in John Copenhaver, a young biochemist and cell biologist recently recruited to the Dartmouth faculty, who took Thomas under his wing and inspired him to excel academically. After graduating from the College in 1957 and from DMS in 1959, Thomas earned his MD from Harvard in 1961.
Dr. Thomas completed an internship and a residency in surgery at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y., followed by a residency in orthopaedics at several Boston hospitals. His career as an orthopaedic surgeon spanned nearly 35 years before he retired in 1997 from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Brigham Orthopaedic Associates in Boston. Dr. Thomas was well known for his many contributions to the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and the advancement of total joint replacement. He also held an appointment as an Associate Clinical Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Thomas’s abiding gratitude to Dartmouth and his lifelong friendship with Professor Copenhaver motivated his generosity to the College and the Medical School over many years. In addition to making annual gifts to the Fund for DMS, contributing to a DMS scholarship fund established by his father, and providing for DMS in his estate plans, Thomas endowed a fellowship in the Molecular and Cellular Biology graduate program in honor of Copenhaver. The John H. Copenhaver, Jr. and William H. Thomas MD Junior Fellowships Fund supports fourth- and fifth- year PhD candidates in Dartmouth’s molecular and cellular biology graduate program. Thomas also served as a DMS class agent and member of the Syvertsen Memorial Committee.
In retirement, Dr. Thomas renewed his passion for flying and found a way to combine it with his commitment to medicine by volunteering as a pilot for Angel Flight New England, an organization that transports financially distressed patients to major medical centers. During his winters in Florida, he also flew with the Civil Air Patrol to help locate stranded boaters.
Dr. Thomas is survived by his wife of 54 years, Margaret “Dickey” Thomas; his daughters Annie and Susan; and four grandchildren.
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William Z. Yahr
William “Bill” Yahr, a renowned cardiovascular surgeon who was a pioneer in the use of lasers in surgery and instrumental in the development of the intra-aortic balloon, died in Miami on September 15, 2011. He was 74 years old.
Dr. Yahr, known for the custom-made cowboy boots he wore as well as for his surgical skills, graduated from Dartmouth College with an A.B. in chemistry before attending Dartmouth Medical School. He received his M.D. from Harvard in 1961. During the Vietnam War he served as a major in the U.S. Air Force and worked at Andrews Air Force Base. Following an internship in surgery at Columbia Presbyterian, he completed a residency in cardiothoracic surgery at Montefiore Medical Center (the Bronx) in 1967 and a fellowship at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn in 1968.
Equally comfortable using either his left or right hand, Dr. Yahr patented an ambidextrous clamp in 1965, the same year that his pioneering research in the use of lasers to aid in surgery was highlighted in Life magazine. While at Maimonides, he was member of Dr. Adrian Kantrowitz’s team that developed the intra-aortic balloon pump, still a standard of care in heart surgery.
Dr. Yahr moved to Florida in 1970 to join fellow Harvard alumnus Dr. Jack Greenberg at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Miami. He and Dr. Greenberg continued research on the intra-aortic pump and instituted it at Mount Sinai.
Dr. Yahr was known as a dedicated and meticulous surgeon, who regularly arrived early to make hospital rounds at 5:30 a.m. Colleagues described him as always “cool and collected” in the operating room. He worked at Mt. Sinai as vice-chair of thoracic surgery from 1970 to 1995. He also worked at Miami Heart Institute and St. Francis Hospital. He retired from active practice at Mount Sinai in February, 2002 and remained a member of the emeritus medical staff until the time of his death.
Dr. Yahr is survived by his daughters, Harriette (DC ’87) and Elizabeth; his son, Alexander; two grandchildren; and his brother, Peter. His mother died just a few days before him, at the age of 99.
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