October 30, 1998

Medical School classmates reunite

Medical School classmates reunite

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Last week's Vanderbilt Medical Alumni Reunion brought together four members of the class of 1943. They were (front row, from left) Dr. Jack Keefe III and Dr. John Kesterson, and (back row) Dr. Clay Miller and Dr. Orlon Carr Jr. (Photo by Anne Rayner)

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Edward Nelson, chairman of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Board, was honored with a Distinguished Service Award at the recent Medical Alumni Reunion. (Photo by Anne Rayner)

Four members of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine class of 1943 ‹ the only time two medical school classes were graduated in one year ‹ reunited at last week¹s 1998 Vanderbilt Medical Alumni Reunion.

The four members of the class, Drs. Orlon V. Carr Jr., John E. Kesterson, Jack E. Keefe III, and Clay R. Miller, were recognized on Friday morning. Keefe and Carr both live in Miami, Miller lives in Columbia, Tenn. and Kesterson calls Knoxville home.

The demands of World War II necessitated two classes that year; one graduated in March and the other in December. The program helped speed the training cycle of desperately needed physicians who, after receiving the accelerated dose of medical training, joined the war effort.

The group which should have graduated in 1944 had their third and fourth years of medical education, plus the fifth (internship) year consolidated into 27 months of round-the-clock learning.

"We went to school constantly after our second year," said Kesterson. "The army wanted us really bad."

Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Dr. Harry R. Jacobson greeted the group on Friday morning, updating them on the growing medical center.

"We have ambitious plans. Nobody has ever accused me of not being ambitious," Jacobson told the group, adding that the medical center needs to raise $567 million over the next several years to invest in scholarships and endowed chairs, people and programs, and important facilities such as the freestanding Vanderbilt Children¹s Hospital, the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center and additional medical center research space.

These plans were helped enormously by the considerable fund-raising efforts of VUSM alums ‹ and newly honored Medical Quinq Society members ‹ Dr. Irwin B. Eskind (MD'48) and Dr. Benjamin J. Alper (MD'49). Thanks to their dedication and diligence, the Medical Reunion giving campaign's commitment total reached $9.4 million.

This commitment total was made up of outright gifts and trusts plus balances from newly established pledges, newly established bequests and all gifts from Quinq Plus Alumni. Classes contributing included those ending in 2, 3, 7, 8 and the Quinq classes of 1948 and 1949.

Edward G. Nelson, chairman of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Board, and Elizabeth Craig Proctor, past president of the Canby Robinson Society, were honored at Reunion with Distinguished Service Awards for their constant devotion and efforts on behalf of the medical center.

Nelson is chairman and president of Nelson Capital Corp., and formerly served as chairman and chief executive officer of Commerce Union Bank. He holds the distinction of Honorary Consul General of Japan and is a board member of the Japan/Tennessee Society. He serves on the boards of numerous businesses based in Nashville and Middle Tennessee and is a long-time supporter of organizations that improve the quality of life for Nashvillians. Nelson was recently recognized by the United Way with the Alexis De Tocqueville Society Volunteer Award for his support. Since 1979 Nelson has been a member of the Vanderbilt Board of Trust and is active on several of its committees.

"The Medical center has benefitted greatly from the stabilizing influence of his hand on the tiller as chairman of our board during the most turbulent era ever witnessed in the health care industry," Jacobson said. "He is an avid champion of sick and injured children, having served four years as chair of the Children's Hospital Board, not to mention his and his wife, Carole's, long affiliation with Friends of Children's Hospital.

"You have given generously of your time, energy and financial resources in support of the medical center's mission, and have successfully applied your business know-how to the delicate art of fund raising," Jacobson said.

Proctor is a life member of the Canby Robinson Society, a past president and board member for two terms. In 1986, she endowed the Craig-Weaver Chair in Pediatrics to honor her parents and first husband, the late William C. Weaver Jr., who had been a member of the Board of Trust and Medical Center Board. Proctor and her children later endowed a second chair, the William C. Weaver III Chair in Neurology.

"Elizabeth has never been one to sit by and watch what others do," Jacobson said. "She gets involved. She makes it her business to find out what the needs are and takes responsibility for filling those needs. She considers it not a duty, but a privilege to be able to help.

"During Vanderbilt's last Capital Campaign, there was a t-shirt that read 'Giving is not a spectator sport.' I can't think of anyone whose lifestyle better fits that inscription than Elizabeth Proctor's."

Receiving the medical school¹s Distinguished Alumnus Award was Dr. Judson G. Randolph, MD¹53, a nationally known pediatric surgeon formerly at National Children¹s Hospital in Washington, D.C. His book, The Injured Child, is widely used by those interested in pediatric trauma and he is also the author of numerous medical journal articles. He is professor of Surgery emeritus at George Washington University, and just last year retired as professor of Surgery at Meharry Medical College. He has served on the Medical Center Board for the past six years and as a trustee of the Vanderbilt University Board for 18 years. Recently, Randolph assumed the presidency of the Canby Robinson Society for a two-year term.

"The medical center's premiere giving society is in good hands. Your life and your work have brought honor and distinction to your alma mater. We are proud to call you one of our own," Jacobson told Randolph.

"I love this medical school and this university," Randolph said as he accepted the award. "I believe that this medical school we attended, with the likes of Drs. Ernest W. Goodpasture and L.W. Edwards and other outstanding faculty members, was as good as a medical school can get. I can tell you today that it goes on as strong as ever."

Also receiving recognition at last week¹s reunion honoring the Medical Quinq Society (the classes of 1948 and 1949 who were celebrating the 50th anniversaries of their graduation) was Dr. Henry M. Carney of Texarkana, Texas. The 1933 graduate of VUSM and a former surgical house officer from 1933 until 1936, was the oldest graduate to attend the three-day event.

Those attending Reunion 1998 were treated to scientific presentations by various alumni and current faculty members, tours of the Annette and Irwin Eskind Biomedical Library, and an evening dinner and dance at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel. Many watched the Vanderbilt Commodores football team defeat South Carolina for their first win of the season and went on to attend class parties on Saturday evening after the game.