October 27, 2006

Gift creates chair in pediatric surgery

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George Holcomb Jr., M.D.

Gift creates chair in pediatric surgery

George Holcomb Jr., M.D., has dedicated his adult life to Vanderbilt and its School of Medicine.

Now, after a 30-year career in Pediatric Surgery and 60-plus year connection with Vanderbilt, Holcomb's legacy and love for the school will continue with the George W. Holcomb Jr., M.D., chair in Pediatric Surgery, documented through a bequest in his will.

“I made this contribution because of an existing need and with the hope that it will assist the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital Surgical Department to advance to the excellence nationally that this outstanding hospital rightfully deserves,” Holcomb said.

“Although the surgical care is excellent at Children's Hospital now, I'm hopeful that this gift will help it continue to advance in national prominence as we recruit world-class pediatric surgeons to care for the children of Middle Tennessee and beyond.”

Holcomb received his undergraduate degree in 1943 and his medical degree in 1946, both from Vanderbilt. During his general surgery residency at Vanderbilt, he became interested in pediatric surgery, and he later accepted a residency at Harvard University Medical School with Robert Gross, M.D.

After completing his surgical residency in 1952, Holcomb served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, stationed in Japan as a thoracic surgeon. After the war, in 1954, he and his late wife, Alice Ingram Holcomb, and their son George W. “Whit” Holcomb III returned to the United States; and shortly after, their daughter, Virginia, was born. The family relocated to Nashville where Holcomb opened his private practice in pediatric surgery, which he operated until retiring in 1989.

In 1993, the late Roscoe R. “Ike” Robinson, M.D., then vice chancellor for Health Affairs, asked Holcomb to return to Vanderbilt to be the executive director of the Medical Alumni Affairs department. Holcomb accepted and remained in the position until 2003.

“It is quite fitting that a chair named for Dr. Holcomb will live in the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital,” said John Brock III, M.D., surgeon-in-chief at Children's Hospital. “Many of us who are practicing surgery today are indebted to the wisdom, surgical technique and experience that Dr. Holcomb provided.

“It was his gentle, caring nature and his outstanding surgical techniques that were impressed upon many of as young surgeons. Those of us who know him personally are indebted to him in helping further our careers, and those who will come in the future will know him by this contribution. This is indeed a very generous and exciting gift befitting someone who has been a giant in Vanderbilt's surgery program for years.”