October 3, 2008

Radiology pioneer Pendergrass mourned

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Henry P. Pendergrass, M.D.

Radiology pioneer Pendergrass mourned

Henry P. Pendergrass, M.D., emeritus professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences and former vice chair of the department, died of pneumonia on Sept. 20. He was 83.

Dr. Pendergrass earned his M.D., from the University of Pennsylvania in 1952. He interned at Pennsylvania Hospital and completed a residency in Radiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania before joining the staff there in 1953.

Dr. Pendergrass left Penn in 1958 to join the Department of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and the faculty of Harvard Medical School. He earned a master's degree from Harvard School of Public Health and served a fellowship at Queen Square Neurological Institute in London.

From 1976 to 1995, he was a professor and vice chairman of the Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences at Vanderbilt. After becoming professor emeritus, he was adjunct professor of Radiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine for several years until the late 1990s. He retired in Gladwyne, Penn.

“We are all deeply saddened by the death of Henry Pendergrass,” said Martin Sandler, M.D., associate vice-chancellor for Hospital Affairs.

“Henry was a great contributor to the field of Radiology and more specifically to Vanderbilt. Henry was an accomplished chest radiologist, teacher and true humanitarian.”

While serving as chair of the department, Sandler held the Carol D. and Henry P. Pendergrass Chair in Radiology, which was endowed by the Pendergrass family in 1992. It serves as a tribute to the achievements of Dr. Pendergrass and his late first wife, Carole.

“It was a great honor to hold the Pendergrass chair,” Sandler said.

Dr. Pendergrass was involved in many medical, educational and research programs and published numerous articles. He and his father, Eugene P. Pendergrass, served terms as president of the Radiological Society of North America. His father pioneered the use of X-rays to diagnose occupational lung disease in miners and other workers exposed to toxic materials.

Jeremy Kaye, M.D., chair of Radiology and Radiological Sciences and current holder of the Pendergrass chair, said that the endowed chair ensures that Dr. Pendergrass's legacy lives on at Vanderbilt Medical Center.

“Having known Henry since he first came to Vanderbilt in 1976 as vice chair of the department, and having benefited greatly from his advice, leadership and support, it is a particular honor for me to now occupy the chair named in his honor,” Kaye said.

“Henry will be missed by many at Vanderbilt and in the radiology community. His contributions to the department at Vanderbilt will have a lasting impression.”

Dr. Pendergrass is survived by his second wife, Carol Minster Pendergrass. They had grown up together near Bryn Mawr and reconnected through mutual friends after both lost spouses. Dr. Pendergrass is also survived by daughters Deborah Reaves and Margaret Sanders; stepchildren Yardly Jenkins and James and Frank Roberts; and eight grandchildren.