Mitchell Wright Spellman, MD, PhD
Mitchell Wright Spellman, 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 MagnaCum 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 1954-1968, 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 beat 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, contributions to the Harvard Medical School's Friends of Harvard Medicine Fund would be appreciated. Please send contributions (checks made out to Harvard Medical School) to Shaké Sulikyan, Senior Director of Annual Giving, Harvard Medical School, 401 Park Drive, Suite 22 West, Boston, MA 02215 and write IMO of Dr. Mitchell Spellman in the memo line; call 617-384-8454 or go to http://hms.harvard.edu/give
, select "Friends of Harvard Medicine" in the fund drop-down and in the "Comments/Other Designation" box include Dr. Spellman's name. Arrangements by McGuire Funeral Service.