January 22, 1999

Meacham remembered as giant in Neurosurgery

Meacham remembered as giant in Neurosurgery

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Dr. William Meacham

Dr. William F. Meacham, a pioneer in the field of Neurosurgery and one of Vanderbilt's own for more than 40 years, died earlier this week at the age of 85.

Dr. Meacham was professor and chair of the department of Neurosurgery for 30 years and was considered one of the country¹s top neurosurgeons.

"He established Neurosurgery, in very major ways, as what it is today," said Dr. John E. Chapman, dean of the School of Medicine. "Bill Meacham will live in the minds and hearts of all he touched, and he touched many. He was a gentle man, full of energy, highly competent, and deeply caring about his patients, his students, his residents, his family, and all who needed him. He¹ll be missed."

Over the course of his distinguished career, Dr. Meacham held 38 offices in various neurosurgical associations, including the presidencies of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the Society of Neurological Surgeons, the Tennessee Neurosurgical Society, and the Southern Neurological Society. He published more than 70 articles in peer-reviewed journals.

The William F. Meacham Chair in Neurological Surgery at Vanderbilt was established in his honor, mostly through gifts from the Meacham Society, a group founded in 1974 by Meacham¹s former residents to honor their mentor. Dr. George S. Allen, professor and chair of the department of Neurosurgery, became the chair's first holder in 1993.

"Dr. Meacham was a superb neurosurgeon and a national and international leader in Neurosurgery," Allen said. "He trained a number of outstanding neurosurgeons, and he will be missed by the entire Vanderbilt Neurosurgery community and by the national neurosurgery community."

Meacham first came to Vanderbilt as a medical student following his graduation from Western Kentucky State College in 1936. He received his medical degree from the School of Medicine in 1940. Dr. Meacham completed his internship and residency in Surgery at Vanderbilt and held the William Henry Howe Fellowship in Neurological Surgery from 1945 to 1947.

Dr. Meacham became assistant clinical professor of Surgery at Vanderbilt in 1947, and advanced to professor of Neurological Surgery in 1954. He became head of the division of Neurosurgery in 1954 and held that position until his retirement in 1984. Following his retirement, he was named clinical professor of Neurosurgery, emeritus.

In 1987, he received the Harvey Cushing Medal, the highest honor given by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

Dr. Meacham is survived by his wife Alice Meacham; daughter, Barbara Calloway; sons William Meacham, Robert Meacham, and Dr. Patrick Meacham, associate clinical professor of Surgery at Vanderbilt; and six grandchildren.