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John B.
Republican WY

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  • Tribute to Dr. Wayne Southwick

    by Senator John Barrasso

    Posted on 2013-01-02

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    BARRASSO. Mr. President, today I wish to pay tribute to an outstanding orthopaedic surgeon, mentor and friend. Dr. Wayne Southwick has had a remarkable career. The author of over 100 peer reviewed journal articles, he has also received numerous awards for his work as a professor and chief of orthopaedic surgery at Yale University's School of Medicine. I had the privilege of learning from Dr. Southwick during my time at Yale. Dr. Southwick's unending dedication to educating the next generation of physicians has had a lasting impact on the medical profession.

    Dr. Wayne Orin Southwick was born on February 6, 1923 in Lincoln, NE. He grew up in Friend, the same small town where his grandfather settled, just before Nebraska was admitted to the Union. Dr. Southwick attended high school in Friend, before entering the University of Nebraska, where he earned a B.A. in 1945 and an M.D. in 1947. During his time at the University of Nebraska, Dr. Southwick married the love of his life, Jessie Ann Seacrest.

    While the vast majority of my remarks will focus on Dr. Southwick's professional accomplishments, I know that what he is most proud of is his loving family. Together, Wayne and Ann raised three children, Fred, Steven and Marcia. Steven has followed in his father's footsteps as a physician and professor of psychiatry at Yale. Wayne would be the first person to admit that all of his accomplishments would not have been possible without the support of his wife and children.

    [[Page S8664]] After graduation from medical school, the Southwick family moved to Boston, where Dr. Southwick completed an internship at Boston City Hospital and also served on the Harvard Surgical Service. He then began a residency in orthopaedic surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD. This experience was interrupted when Dr. Southwick joined the Navy to serve his country during the Korean War. He was assigned to both the hospital ship Repose and Bethesda Naval Hospital. His experience in the Navy cemented Dr. Southwick's commitment to public service and helping the less fortunate. Over the course of his career, he made repeated trips abroad to provide health care to people in underserved locations.

    Dr. Southwick returned to Johns Hopkins after leaving the Navy and completed his residency in 1955. He worked as an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins before he was appointed as the first full-time chief of orthopaedic surgery at Yale in 1958. It is from this position that Dr. Southwick made a truly indelible mark.

    Known as an innovative and creative surgeon, Dr. Southwick made tremendous contributions to the practice of medicine. In particular, he received recognition for his surgical management of slipped femoral capital epiphysis and approaches to the cervical spine. His name can be found in the index of most modern day surgery textbooks. However, what he probably will be remembered for most is his leadership of Yale's orthopaedic surgery residency program.

    Over his tenure, nearly 100 residents completed orthopaedic surgery training at Yale. The program created by Dr. Southwick became a model for the rest of the Nation. Specifically, Dr. Southwick ensured that his program welcomed students from all backgrounds. For example, he accepted the first African American surgical resident, Dr. Augustus White, who went on to serve as the first African American department chief at Harvard's teaching hospitals. Dr. Southwick also recruited the first female African American orthopaedic surgery resident, Dr. Claudia Thomas, in 1975.

    The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons recognized Dr. Southwick's commitment to diversity by awarding him AAOS's first Diversity Award in 2003. Dr. Terry Light, a former orthopaedic resident at Yale and president of the Academic Orthopaedic Society, described Dr. Southwick in this way, ``Dr. Southwick never saw himself as a champion of civil rights nor as one who was trying to do good. He simply and honestly did what he felt was fair.'' Dr. Southwick simply noted, ``I didn't take the approach that I was going to recruit a diverse group, rather I looked to gather an interesting, qualified group that would work well together. What I found was a highly capable group of people with diverse backgrounds.'' Dr. Southwick remained as chief of orthopaedic surgery at Yale from 1958 until 1979. He left the faculty in 1993 and was appointed professor emeritus. Retirement allowed Dr. Southwick to concentrate on another passion of his life, sculpting. Some may see medicine and sculpture as unrelated endeavors, but Dr. Southwick understands that they have much in common. His thorough understanding of human anatomy allowed Dr. Southwick to create numerous works of art, many of which can be found on Yale's campus.

    Dr. Southwick will be celebrating his 90th birthday with many of the surgeons whom he has trained. I could not let this event pass without recognizing his many accomplishments and impact on my own life. Over the years I have been lucky to call Dr. Southwick my mentor, colleague and friend. I know the entire Senate joins with me in commending Dr. Southwick on his remarkable career and wishing him a very happy birthday.


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