August 14, 1998

Scoville created legacy of patient care, education

Scoville created legacy of patient care, education

reporter_8.14.98_2.jpg (27k)

Dr. Addison Scoville Jr.

For nearly half a century he was a shining example of what a physician at Vanderbilt University Medical Center should be.

Researcher, educator, dedicated healer. All are accurate descriptions of Dr. Addison B. Scoville Jr., clinical professor of Medicine, Emeritus, who died on Aug. 10 at the age of 84.

Dr. Scoville was renowned for his decades of dedication to the treatment of diabetes and for his considerable and enduring contributions to Vanderbilt's clinical, educational and research missions.

"Addison Scoville was one of the warmest, most caring, most compassionate physicians I have ever known," said Dr. Roscoe R. Robinson, professor of Medicine and former Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs. "He was devoted to Vanderbilt and to its alumni. He brought a new vitality to Medical Alumni Affairs, including his almost personal authorship of the school's most complete alumni directory ever.

"But perhaps one of his greatest contributions was his stewardship of the Justin Potter Medical Scholarships program throughout its 30-year history," Robinson said.

That program, as well as many other medical education initiatives, were important to Dr. Scoville.

"Addison Scoville was a substantial and important contributor to the many programs in the School of Medicine over many years," said Dr. John E. Chapman, dean of the School of Medicine. "Alumni Affairs, the Justin Potter Scholarship Program and the general welfare of the school in the context of its alumni were very important to him.

"He defined leadership by example, and that example carried over into his initiatives with the Justin Potter Medical Scholarship Program. He will be missed by all whose lives he touched ‹ which were many."

One of those lives was that of Dr. Joseph C. Ross, associate vice chancellor for Health Affairs. Ross received his medical degree from Vanderbilt in 1954, and as a young house officer studied under Dr. Scoville.

"He was one of my teachers and I took care of many of his patients, and the thing that he was most respected for was the way he managed his patients," Ross said. "Just by watching and studying him, you could tell that he was very attentive and his patients were his top priority.

"Later, when I returned to Vanderbilt 17 years ago, we became friends. His contributions to the university over the course of the years were considerable, and Vanderbilt owes him a great deal. He will be missed greatly."

Dr. Scoville attended Mt. Vernon High School in Mt. Vernon, N.Y. He received his bachelor's and medical degree from Cornell in 1936 and 1939, respectively. He began his career at Vanderbilt in 1939 as a resident, and, upon receiving the National Research Council Fellowship, became an instructor in pathology in 1942.

He served as a Major in the U.S. Army during World War II, was a member of the U.S. Army Typhus Commission from 1945-1946 and received the U.S. Army Typhus Commission Medal.

Moving into private practice, Dr. Scoville joined Dr. Thomas F. Frist to form the Frist-Scoville Medical Group in 1946. In that same year, Dr. Scoville also joined the faculty of Vanderbilt.

He served as a clinical professor of Medicine throughout his career, retiring from private practice in 1979 to assume the position as executive director for Alumni Services for VUMC. He retired from that position in 1987, becoming clinical professor of Medicine, Emeritus.

Dr. Scoville served on the board and as president of the American Diabetes Association. He was chairman of both the Metro Board of Health and the board of directors of the Nashville Academy of Medicine. He also served on the board of the Nashville chapter of the American Cancer Society.

A fully endowed professorship in Medicine was established in Dr. Scoville's honor in 1985. It is held today by Dr. Martin J. Blaser. The American Diabetes Association also established the Scoville Award in his name. Other medical honors received by Dr. Scoville during his long and illustrious career included being named a National Research Fellow in Virus Diseases and a Fellow in the American College of Physicians and receiving the Banting Medal from the American Diabetes Association.

Dr. Scoville's contributions to the educational mission of VUMC cannot be overstated. He was a member of the selection committee for the entire 30-year history of the Justin Potter Medical Scholarship. The purpose of the four-year scholarship program, which ran from 1964 to 1994, was to attract outstanding students to medical school, students who were proven leaders. The scholarships were established by the Justin and Valere Potter Foundation. Justin Potter was a Nashville businessman, industrialist and financier. He died in 1961.

Of his experience with the scholarship program, Dr. Scoville once said, "From their beginning until their end in 1994, I have been privileged to be associated with the Justin Potter Medical Scholarships. During their years of existence, I have met and known many of the finest young men and women who have chosen a medical career.

"Despite the numerous changes in our society, in medicine, and in medical practice during those years, my confidence in the future will remain bright as long as medicine continues to attract men and women as talented and caring as those who have been selected as Justin Potter Scholars."

One of those who received one of the select scholarships was VUMC's own Dr. David Robertson, professor of Medicine and director of the Clinical Research Center.

"Dr. Scoville's character, which was the primary attribute that attracted Justin Potter's support for the medical center's academic mission, was the basis of the success of the Potter Scholarship program for 30 years. More than any other individual, he made the program into an extraordinary, national success.

"At the same time, he embodied all the best characteristics of the physician and maintained close relationships with his patients, students and house staff," Robertson said.

Dr. Scoville is survived by his wife, Ruth Marie King Scoville, their two sons, Addison B. Scoville III and Charles K. Scoville, a brother, George S. Scoville, and five grandchildren.