July 9, 2004

Robert N. Buchanan dies at 93

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Dr. Robert N. “Buck” Buchanan Jr.

Robert N. Buchanan dies at 93

Dr. Robert N. “Buck” Buchanan Jr., clinical professor of Dermatology, Emeritus, died Wednesday at Richland Place Health Center in Nashville. He was 93.

Dr. Buchanan, born in Hendersonville, the son of a country doctor, graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1931 and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 1934.

After three years of general practice in Lebanon, and a specialized residency in dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital, he practiced dermatology in Nashville for only 10 months before being called into active duty with the U.S. Army from May 1942 to February 1946.

He was invited to join the Fighting 300th by Hugh J. Morgan, M.D. Morgan was chairman of Medicine at Vanderbilt before becoming the chief medical consultant for the Armed Forces, working under the Surgeon General.

In May 1942, he went to Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital and was assigned to a special multi-center Army research project, trying to find out why troops treated for syphilis came down with jaundice.

Dr. Buchanan and his group discovered the culprit was arsenic used as part of the IV treatment.

He later served in North Africa and Italy and was called on for special assignment — he was made the consulting dermatologist for the entire Mediterranean theatre, a job that took him to hospitals and medical units from Casablanca to Iran to Paris.

He returned to Nashville in 1945 and resumed a very active practice with Howard King, M.D., and C.M. Hamilton, M.D. At Vanderbilt, he held various appointments in the division of Dermatology, including chief of the division. He saw his last patient in 1996 at age 85.

“Buck Buchanan was a consummate dermatologist with a long interest and involvement in Vanderbilt dermatology. He was a Vanderbiltian to the core,” said Dr. Roscoe R. Robinson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs, Emeritus. “Vanderbilt is indeed fortunate that he one day passed her way. I will miss him as a friend and as a counselor.”

Dr. Buchanan was known as “Dr. Buck” to his patients in Nashville and colleagues at Vanderbilt. Lloyd E. King Jr., M.D., Ph.D., professor of Medicine, has fond memories of Dr. Buchanan, who he has known for almost 30 years and succeeded as chief of the division.

“‘Dr. Buck’ has been the strength and guiding light for generations,” King said. “His dedication and loyalty to Vanderbilt is legendary. His leadership in numerous local, state, national and international organizations has put Vanderbilt’s reputation in the forefront. Dermatology has lost a great leader and I’ve lost a great friend.”

Dr. Buchanan is survived by his wife, Rachelle Blackman Buchanan, four children, Robert N. Buchanan III, John Blackman Buchanan, Jane Buchanan Corcoran, and Alexander Blackman Buchanan, and 12 grandchildren.

Visitation will be from noon to 3 p.m. today, and 9 – 11 a.m. on Saturday at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 3900 West End Ave.

A public service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, with a private burial afterward. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the division of Dermatology at VUMC.