December 21, 2007

Year in review 2007: VUMC remembers friends, colleagues who died

Featured Image

VUSM students involved with the Shade Tree Clinic include (front row, from left) Amaka Agochukwu, Alan Peltz and Sue Churn, and (back row, from left) Suzanne Bryce, Eve Henry, Caitlin Toomey and Charles Phillips. (photo by Neil Brake)

Sara Katherine Archer, Ed.D., R.N., former dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, died July 5 at 88.

“Sally,” as her many friends called her, was recruited to Vanderbilt in the late 1960s to direct the new medical surgical nursing major in the master's program. She taught gerontology classes, which was a new field of study at the time. She was a protégé of Dean Luther Christman and assumed the role of dean upon his departure in 1972 and served in the position until her retirement in 1982.

Mrs. Archer was adored by many, but also could be a tough leader. In her office, she proudly displayed a plaque reading “Illegitimi non carborundum,” which loosely translated means, “Don't let the bastards grind you down.”

F. Tremaine Billings, M.D., professor of Medicine Emeritus at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and a member of the Vanderbilt faculty since 1941, died Sept. 16. He was 95.

Dr. Billings, known to his friends as Josh, was a 1933 graduate of Princeton University, received his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1938, and did his medical training at Johns Hopkins and Vanderbilt.

“He is the ultimate example of what a good doctor should be — honest and careful,” said Anderson Spickard Jr., M.D., Chancellor's Professor of Medicine. “He devoted his life to the diagnosis and proper therapy of every patient he came in contact with. He taught us about house calls and their value, and of the importance of an accurate history and physical exam.”

Dr. Billings was instrumental in forming the partnership between VUMC and Meharry Medical College, and served as chair of Meharry's Department of Medicine from 1953-1961.

Michael Anthony (Tony) Bland, a Vanderbilt LifeFlight employee for more than 18 years, died June 12.

Mr. Bland, who was named “EMT of the Year” in 2006 by the Tennessee Ambulance Service Association (TASA), was active in the air medical community on a national level as a member of the board of directors of the National Association of Air Medical Communication Specialists, and was an institution within the local emergency medical services (EMS) community. He served as a flight communicator with Vanderbilt LifeFlight's emergency communications center.

Mary Louise Donaldson, Ph.D., professor of Nursing Emerita, died Sept. 11 at 77. She was affectionately known as “Lou.”

She joined VUSN as a faculty member shortly after graduating from the school in 1954 and served until her retirement in 1992.

During her tenure, Mrs. Donaldson made many contributions, including developing a media center and frequently enhancing the curriculum. She also served as the school's historian and published a book titled “A History of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing,” which chronicled the School's first 75 years.

Roger England, a senior research specialist in the Department of Anesthesiology, died Oct. 11. He was 63.

Mr. England, who last year received the Edward E. Price Award for Basic Research, came to Vanderbilt in 1967.

During his four decades here, Mr. England touched many areas of basic research, including physiology/biochemistry, animal models of brain ischemia, sensori-neural deafness, epilepsy and molecular biology.

Linna Guzzi, administrative officer for the Department of Biomedical Informatics, died Jan. 18, of breast cancer. She was 36 and had worked for VUMC since 1997. She was a graduate of Ohio University and had a master's degree in business administration from Tennessee State University.

Longtime research assistant Edward E. Price Jr., for whom the Laboratory Science Award for Basic Research was renamed last September, died of stomach cancer Jan. 18. He was 68.

Mr. Price, called a “craftsman” in his field, worked in the Department of Biochemistry, where he performed sophisticated cardiovascular procedures on mice in collaboration with investigators interested in heart attack and high blood pressure research.

William C. “Bill” Weaver III, a longtime supporter of VUMC as well as many local organizations, died Dec. 9. He was 66.

Mr. Weaver, who had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 30 years ago, was a business leader and philanthropist who was involved in numerous causes, including camps for children, the Tennessee Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter, which was named in his honor.

Benjamin Wilson, Ph.D., professor emeritus of Biochemistry and an internationally recognized expert in the toxicology of natural products, died July 4. He was 84.

Dr. Wilson came to VUMC in 1963, after serving as associate professor at David Lipscomb College. His research focused on naturally occurring toxic compounds from bacteria, fungi and plants.

David K. "Pat" Wilson, former chairman and life member of the Vanderbilt University Board of Trust whose personal and family influence and generosity are evidenced in nearly all areas of the university, died May 20 at home. He was 87.

Mr. Wilson, a 1941 graduate of Vanderbilt, was elected to the Board of Trust in 1963 and served as chair from 1981 to 1991 at a time when Vanderbilt achieved significant growth.

He had a role in every major Vanderbilt fund-raising effort in the past four decades. He chaired the Centennial Campaign, which started out with a goal of $150 million and ended up raising $165 million, served on the steering committee of the 1990s Campaign for Vanderbilt, which raised more than $557 million, and was a member of the planning committee for the current Shape the Future campaign.

One of Mr. Wilson's most recent endowments was a chair in the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in memory of his first wife, Anne Potter Wilson, who died of cancer in 1986.

James P. Wilson, M.D., associate professor of Medicine and former director of the Adult Primary Care Center, died Nov. 26 after a long battle with cancer. He was 67.

Dr. Wilson brought the Wilson Medical Group and its large patient base to Vanderbilt in 1990, which jumpstarted a revolution in primary care here. He served as the associate chief medical officer for Primary Care in Adult Medicine and associate director for clinical practice in General Internal Medicine from 1995-2000.

Dr. Wilson was a member of the VUH/TVC Design Team from 1993-1994 which examined what worked well and what needed improvement at the two facilities. Implementation of the team's recommendations began in 1995.