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JOHN HERSCHEL DAVIS M.D.

Obituary
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JOHN HERSCHEL DAVIS, MD, FACS BURLINGTON - John Herschel Davis, MD, FACS, former Chair of Surgery at the University of Vermont, died on Jan. 19, 2012, with loved ones by his side. He was born in Coraopolis, Pa. on May 11, 1924, the only child of Jack and Fern Pew Davis. He attended Allegheny College and Western Reserve University School of Medicine, receiving his MD degree in 1948. He married his high school sweetheart, Peggy Lou Seyler, on Sept. 7, 1946. John served in World War II and the Korean Conflict. In Korea, he worked as a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) surgeon and was part of a surgical research team that introduced new approaches to the treatment of burn and trauma patients, many of which are still used today. After the war, he completed his surgical training at the University Hospitals of Cleveland where he remained on the staff for nearly 20 years. When he left Cleveland, he was Professor and Chief of Surgery at the Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital. In January 1969, John and his family moved from Cleveland to Burlington, where he became Chairman of the Department of Surgery at UVM and Chief of Surgery at the Medical Center Hospital of Vermont, roles that he held until 1989. His proudest accomplishments during this time included the creation of the University Health Center (UHC) for ambulatory patient care; the recruitment and training of a world-class group of surgical residents; collaboration with community physicians throughout the state; and continued research in the areas of trauma prevention and treatment. Throughout his tenure he remained a consummate surgeon, utterly dedicated to clinical excellence and patient care of the highest quality. During his years at UVM, John served as President of the New England Surgical Society, the Vermont Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, the Eastern Surgical Association, and American Association for the Surgery of Trauma. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the Vermont State Medical Society and the Surgeon of the Year Award from the National Safety Council. John was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and received their highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, in 1991. In 2000, his UVM medical staff colleagues honored him by supporting the construction of the John H. Davis Auditorium attached to the UVM College of Medicine. In 2009, he was honored by the Association of Women Surgeons for his commitment to the training and career advancement of women surgeons. As the father of three daughters, this award was particularly meaningful to him. He published more than 150 scientific papers, three books (including serving as lead editor of the textbook Clinical Surgery), and numerous book chapters. From 1975-1994, he served as editor of the Journal of Trauma. As accomplished as he was as a surgeon, researcher, and administrator, John truly excelled in the roles of teacher, mentor and friend. He enjoyed these roles immensely and took great pride in the accomplishments of others, especially his students and residents. He never tired of learning or teaching and remained intellectually curious throughout his life. He nurtured this curiosity in others and thoroughly enjoyed the exchange of ideas with friends, family, patients, colleagues, students, and caregivers. He enjoyed gardening and woodworking in his younger years and was an avid reader to the end. He is survived by his loving wife of 65 years, Peggy Lou; daughters, Karen (Randall Block), Wendy (John Mahoney), and Halle; grandsons, Jeffrey and Peter Block; his beloved sister-in-law, Velva Idzkowsky and her family; several cherished cousins and their families; treasured friends, Ruth Gilbert, Jim Austin, Joanne Artz, and Peter Morris; and canine friends, Mac, Maeve, Kaiya, Twiggy, and Rusty. The family also wishes to acknowledge John's deep and enduring friendships with so many surgeons and other health care colleagues in Vermont and throughout the country. He felt truly blessed to have known all of you and your dear families. The family plans a celebration of his life at a later date. For those who wish to honor John's memory, donations may be made to the UVM College of Medicine Department of Surgery to support the annual John H. Davis, MD Endowed Lectureship in Surgery and other research and educational activities. Donations in his honor should be sent to UVM College of Medicine, Given Building E-100, 89 Beaumont Ave., Burlington, VT 05405. "The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on . . ." (The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Edward FitzGerald translation)

Published in The Burlington Free Press from Jan. 22 to Jan. 23, 2012
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