Spellman, Mitchell Wright, MD, PhD at the age of 93, died peacefully at home with his loving wife on November 11, 2013. He battled for several years with a rare neurodegenerative disease. He was a pioneer among African- Americans in Academic Medicine and a loving family man. He was born on December 1,1919 to Frank J. Spellman, MD and Altonette B. Spellman in Alexandria, LA. His parents, unhappy with segregated local schools, sent him at the age of 12 to the Gilbert Academy in New Orleans where he graduated valedictorian in 1936. He graduated Magna Cum Laude and valedictorian from Dillard University in New Orleans in 1940. In 1944, he graduated from Howard University College of Medicine (AOA), and was ranked 2nd in his class. influenced by his mentor, Charles R. Drew, MD, he then began 11 years of post-medical school surgical training at Cleveland General Hospital, Freedman's Hospital and finished at the University of Minnesota where he served from 1951-1954 as Commonwealth Fund Fellow in Surgery and Resident in Thoracic Surgery. He received his PhD in Surgery from the University of Minnesota in 1955. From 1954-1963, in Washington, DC, he was a member of the surgical faculty at Howard University College of Medicine, ultimately becoming Professor of Surgery and Chief Medical Officer at DC General Hospital for the Howard University, Division of Surgery. From 1969-1978, in Los Angeles, CA, he served as Founding Dean, Executive Dean and Professor of Surgery at Charles R. Drew Postgraduate Medical School, Assistant Dean and Professor of Surgery at UCLA School of Medicine, and Clinical Professor of Surgery at USC School of Medicine. From 1978-2004, at Harvard Medical School, in Boston, MA, he served as Dean for Medical Services, Professor of Surgery, Director of International Medical Programs and Executive Vice President of the Harvard Medical Center. He was also Director of Academic Alliances and international Exchange Programs for Harvard Medical International. He was awarded Honorary Doctorates by Georgetown University, University of Florida, and Dillard University. He served as Visiting Professor at Stanford School of Medicine from 1975-1976. He was the recipient of numerous academic awards throughout his career. On June 27, 1947, he married Billie Rita Rhodes, RN. Their marriage of 50 years produced eight children of whom six survive: Frank A. Spellman, MD (Beverly), Mitchell A. Spellman, MBA (Susan), Maria (Peggy) Spellman Weaver, RN (Ronald Weaver, MD), Melva Spellman, Mark Spellman, JD and Rita Spellman-Parks. He is also survived by his wife, Olivia Spellman and grandchildren Sarah Parks, Anthony Spellman, Aspen Spellman, Dean Spellman, Frank Spellman, Mitchell Spellman, Morgan Spellman, Piper Spellman, Shannon Spellman, Christina Weaver and Ronald Weaver II. He was predeceased by his beloved wife Billie R. Spellman, sons Michael A. Spellman and Manly A. Spellman, grandchildren Chelsea Weaver and Manly Parks, and second wife Adrian Foster Spellman. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, November 23, 2013 at The Chapel of Our Lady, Georgetown Preparatory School, 10900 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda, MD 20852. Visitation will be at 10 a.m. to be followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. Interment will follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Silver Spring, Maryland. In lieu of flowers, family suggests donations in memory of Mitchell Wright Spellman MD, PhD be made to the Harvard Medical School. Arrangements by McGuire Funeral Services.
This obituary was originally published in the Star Tribune.