John M. FLEXNER M.D.

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FLEXNER, M.D., John M. Professor of Medicine Emeritus at Vanderbilt University, died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center on December 27th, 2011 after a brief illness. He was 85 years old. After two years in the U.S. Navy, Dr. Flexner received his A.B. from Yale in 1950 and his M.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1954. He completed internship and residency at Vanderbilt and Yale before completing fellowship training in Hematology at Vanderbilt. After completing his postdoctoral fellowship in 1959, Dr. Flexner enjoyed a lengthy career teaching and practicing medicine at Vanderbilt, the Nashville Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Nashville General Hospital, and Meharry Medical College. In 1974, he was selected for membership in the Alpha Omega Alpha national medical honor society. He was the American Cancer Society Professor of Clinical Oncology at Vanderbilt from 1981-1991, one of only 17 in the U.S. Memberships in professional societies included the American Association of Cancer Education, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society of Hematology, Davidson County Medical Society, Johns Hopkins Medical and Surgical Association, Nashville Academy of Medicine, and Sigma Xi Fraternity, a national honorary medical fraternity. He published more than 80 medical articles, mostly in the field of leukemia and lymphoma, and wrote book chapters on death and dying, and the management of cancer pain. He was a Distinguished Alumnus of the Webb School in Bell Buckle, where he graduated in 1944. A favorite of Vanderbilt medical students, he was regularly honored with inclusion in the yearly student composite picture in the 1970's and 80's. Dr. Flexner wrote several highly-cited papers regarding the clinical course of T-cell lymphomas, and contributed to seminal work in the immunological classification of lymphomas. His passion however, was his work regarding the role of the physician in the care of dying patients. Together with Dr. David Barton, with whom he taught the "Death, Dying, and Bereavement" course at Vanderbilt, he founded Alive Hospice of Nashville in 1975. He considered this his greatest legacy. Dr. Flexner is survived by his wife, Glenda Skinner of Nashville; four children, John Lindsey Flexner of Landenberg, PA, Charles Williams Flexner of Ellicott City, MD, Anne Conley of Marietta, GA and Morris Carter Flexner of Athens, GA; ten grandchildren and one great-grandchild. The Burial Office will be said for Dr. Flexner at Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville on Friday, December 30th at 2 p.m., with a reception to follow in the Parish Hall. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to Alive Hospice of Nashville.
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Published in The Tennessean on Dec. 30, 2011
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