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George F. Sheldon

Obituary
  • "Condolences to the family and particularly to my Salina..."
    - Larry Gutsch

George F. Sheldon, MD, FACS
Chapel Hill
George F. Sheldon, MD, FACS, passed away on June 16, 2013 after a short illness. He spent his last days at UNC Hospital surrounded by his family.
Dr. Sheldon was born in Salina, Kansas, and became a 3rd generation physician. Dr. Sheldon had a B.A. in History and a M.D. from the University of Kansas. He did his internship at KU, and was a Lieutenant Commander in the US Coast Guard. He completed his surgical residency at the University of California-San Francisco, and was Chief Resident. He also completed Fellowships the Mayo Clinic, the National Heart Institute and Harvard Medical School.
In 1971, Dr. Sheldon became Chief of the Trauma and Hyper alimentation Services at San Francisco General Hospital, as part of UCSF. He became Professor of Surgery in 1980.
In 1984, Dr. Sheldon became Chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and became the Zack D. Owens Distinguished Professor of Surgery and Social Medicine. He was Chair for 17 years, expanding the department's services, and focusing on recruiting surgical faculty, including minority and female surgeons.
Dr. Sheldon was among less than 20 surgeons in the last 100 years to be president of all major surgical organizations, including the American College of Surgeons, American Surgical Association, and American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, and American Board of Surgery. Honorary Fellowships included the Royal Colleges of Surgeons of Edinburgh and England, and the Society of Black Academic Surgeons, among others. He received numerous professional awards, including the Thomas Jefferson Award by the UNC-CH. In 2012, he was the 2nd recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American College of Surgeons.
At the time of his death, he was Editor-in-Chief of eFACS.org (web portal of the American College of Surgeons). He authored over 400 articles and book chapters, and including Hugh Williamson: Physician, Patriot, and Founding Father (2010).
Dr. Sheldon's trained and mentored hundreds of residents, fellows, students and faculty members. He was keenly interested in others' educational goals, even during his last days in the hospital. He enjoyed reading, news and sports, and loved animals. He treasured family trips to the family cabin in Colorado, and was planning a visit there in August.
Dr. Sheldon is survived by his wife Ruth, of Chapel Hill, NC; daughters Anne Sheldon Anderson (Citrus Heights, CA), Elizabeth (Betsy) Sheldon (Orangevale, CA), and Dr. Julia Sheldon, (Carmichael, CA); and brothers (Richard Robert Sheldon II, Ph.D. and William F. Sheldon, Ph.D.); four grandchildren; and cat Theo.
Burial will be in Salina, Kansas, and a memorial will be held in the fall at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the George F. Sheldon Distinguished Professorship at UNC-Chapel Hill, to the Richard and Helen Sheldon Fund at KU, or to the SPCA.
Please see http://www.med.unc.edu/surgery for more information.
A remembrance page for Dr. Sheldon has been set up at http://georgesheldonre membered.web.unc.edu where people are encouraged to leave their memories.
Published in The News & Observer on July 7, 2013
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