August 14, 1998

Scott left mark as leader of Department of Surgery

Scott left mark as leader of Department of Surgery

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Dr. H. William Scott

Vanderbilt University Medical Center has lost one of its most distinguished faculty.

Dr. H. William Scott Jr., chairman of the Department of Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center for more than three decades and a true giant in the field of surgical sciences, died on August 5 at the age of 81.

Dr. Scott was a prominent figure in the field of surgery at the local, national and international levels. From 1952 until his retirement in 1982, he guided Vanderbilt¹s Department of Surgery, reorganized in 1975 into the Section of Surgical Sciences. Under his direction, the department grew and gained worldwide recognition for its clinical innovation and educational and research accomplishments.

Less than five years after completion of his surgical residency, he was appointed chairman of the department of Surgery at Vanderbilt University in 1952; at the age of 35, he was the youngest person ever appointed to such a post.

"Dr. H. William Scott Jr. is synonymous with the best traditions of Vanderbilt, its educational programs, clinical programs and research endeavors," said Dr. John E. Chapman, dean of the School of Medicine. "Dr. Scott was a moving force in surgery locally, nationally and internationally. He served virtually every important office the field of surgery has to offer.

"He was dedicated to the welfare of his patients, his students at every level and to his colleagues. His memory and tradition are forever coupled with the memories and traditions of Surgery at Vanderbilt."

"If you talk to people around the country and world, they will tell you he was one of the great surgeons of our time," said Dr. James A. O¹Neill, John Clinton Foshee Distinguished Professor of Surgery and Chairman of the department which Scott led for so many years.

"His development of a core plan of education has enriched all of surgery, he put research on the map at Vanderbilt, and his trainees are everywhere. He was intensely loyal to his trainees and to Vanderbilt."

Dr. John L. Sawyers, professor of Surgery, emeritus, who succeeded Scott as chairman of Surgery, remembered Scott as a mentor and a friend.

"It was my privilege to know Dr. Scott as my teacher at Johns Hopkins Medical School, my professor as a surgical resident at Vanderbilt University Hospital, and as a member of his surgical faculty. One could not ask for a better mentor.

"Bill Scott was indeed a world-renowned surgeon and scholar. His patients and students were devoted to him as a friend, as well as a fellow human. His family and friends can take great pride in the devotion of his life to the advancement of surgery. I consider myself most fortunate to have had him as my mentor and friend."

Dr. Scott was born in Graham, N.C., in 1916. He attended high school in Graham and later the Darlington School. In 1933 he entered the University of North Carolina, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After graduating with an AB degree in 1937, he entered Harvard Medical School, receiving his M.D. degree in 1941 with honors as a member of Alpha Omega Alpha.

He was selected to be a house officer in surgery, first at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston and later at the Boston Children¹s Hospital, where he also served as a surgical resident. In 1946 he joined the surgical staff at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and served there as chief resident in Surgery from 1946-1947.

Following his residency, Dr. Scott was appointed to the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine under the famous Dr. Alfred Blalock, who had been Vanderbilt¹s first chief resident in Surgery, during the time when his Œblue baby¹ operation triggered great activity in surgical and medical cardiology.

Dr. Scott climbed the academic ranks quickly. Less than five years after completing his residency, he was appointed professor and Chairman of the Department of Surgery at Vanderbilt, succeeding Dr. Barney Brooks, another surgical pioneer.

Dr. Scott¹s training programs in Surgery have produced many academic surgeons and some of the most respected surgical practitioners in the United States. Dr. Scott had a major impact on the development of graduate surgical education in this country and made many significant contributions to surgical education and to surgical science. His publications number more than 350, and he wrote several books as well.

Dr. Scott¹s peers recognized his accomplishments by electing him not only to membership in every outstanding surgical society, but also to the presidency of many of these organizations, including the American Surgical Association, the American College of Surgeons, the Society of University Surgeons, the Nashville Surgical Society, the Tennessee Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, the Society of Clinical Surgeons, the Halsted Society, the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract, and the Southern Surgical Association.

"His research, teaching and clinical activities, together with valuable administrative work for the American College of Surgeons and other national surgical organizations, will assure him of lasting memory in surgical annals," said Dr. C. Rollins Hanlon, of the American College of Surgeons.

Dr. Scott also has been president of numerous international organizations, including the Pan Pacific Surgical Association, the International Society of Surgery, the U.S. Chapter and the International Surgical Group.

Further honors included appointments as consultant to the U.S. Public Health Service, membership and chairmanship on review boards of the USPHS Surgery Study Section, the American Board of Surgery, and to the Advisory Board of Medical Specialties, the National Board of Medical Examiners, and the Society of Scholars of Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Scott held appointments to the editorial boards of several surgical journals and was a visiting professor at more than 77 universities across the world. He was also an honorary Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons, the Swedish Svenek Kirurgisk Forening, and the German surgical society Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Chirurgie. He held honorary degrees from, among others, the University of Aberdeen, University of Gotenborg, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Aside from global recognition as a surgeon and scholar, Dr. Scott is remembered with devotion by his patients and former students, and as a friend. When he retired in 1982, Dr. Scott was named Professor Emeritus and honored with a two-day scientific program bearing his name.

Dr. Scott is survived by his wife, Martha and four children from a previous marriage: Henry William Scott III of Nashville, Mary Elizabeth McWilliams of Nashville, Virginia Vanamee of Boulder, Colo., and Patricia Staley of Akron, Ohio. Scott is also survived by three stepdaughters, Susan Ringenberg of Burn, Tenn., Jean Marie Ashmore of Nashville, and Jennifer Ashmore of San Diego, Calif., as well as six grandchildren and one step grandchild.