1931 - 2019
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Dr. James L. Talbert, surgeon, visionary, beloved husband and father, passed away Monday, July 1, 2019, at Haven Hospice in Gainesville, Florida. He was born September 26, 1931, in Cassville, Missouri to William David and Frances Lewis Talbert. An Eagle Scout, he graduated from high school in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, where his father was the president of a local bank.
Dr. Talbert completed his undergraduate studies at Vanderbilt University in 1953. He was named to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society and selected as captain of the men's swim team. Dr. Talbert earned his MD degree from Vanderbilt's School of Medicine in 1956. He received the Founder's Medal for finishing first in his medical school class and named to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.
Dr. Talbert's postgraduate medical training was at Johns Hopkins Hospital as a Halsted resident in Surgery, Harvey Cushing Fellow in Surgery, and as its first Pediatric Surgery resident. He was mentored by Drs. Alfred Blalock, David C. Sabiston and J. Alex Haller Jr., at Johns Hopkins. While he was receiving his postgraduate medical training, Dr. Talbert was appointed as a Lieutenant in the United States Public Health Service and selected to serve as a Senior Assistant Surgeon at the National Heart Institute, National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Maryland.
He met his wife, Alice Quintavell, a cardiac surgery intensive care nurse at Johns Hopkins in 1956. They married in 1958. After his marriage to Alice and the birth of their two children, he was appointed as an Instructor in Surgery and Garrett Scholar in Pediatric Surgery and an Assistant Professor of Surgery and Pediatric Surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
In 1967, Dr. Talbert became the first pediatric surgeon to be recruited by the Department of Surgery at the University of Florida College of Medicine and was appointed as its Chief of Pediatric Surgery. He remained the Chief of Pediatric Surgery from 1967 until 1998. In 1998, Dr. Talbert retired and became Professor Emeritus with the Department of Surgery at the University of Florida College of Medicine. The James Lewis Talbert Lectureship was established by the Division of Pediatric Surgery at the time of his retirement.
Dr. Talbert, along with Dr. Shirley A. Graves, MD, designed the first Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Shands Teaching Hospital in 1967. It was among the first PICU's in the country. The current PICU which opened in 2002 was named the Shirley A. Graves, MD, and James L. Talbert, MD, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Shands Children's Hospital in their honor. Dr. Talbert also helped develop the Neonatal Flight Team in 1981 for the air transport of premature infants from across the state of Florida to Shands Teaching Hospital which evolved into 'ShandsCair' providing emergency helicopter and air transport for patients in need of critical care. He was actively involved in the establishment of Emergency Medical Services in Alachua County and served as Chairman of the Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council.
Dr. Talbert was a member of virtually every major organization committed to excellence in surgery including the American College of Surgeons serving on its Board of Governors and the Halsted Society serving as its Chairman. He was also a founding member of the American Pediatric Surgical Association. Dr. Talbert was a prolific writer and published more than 100 scholarly papers and book chapters and authored or co-authored several books including The Child in the Hospital in 1967 and Surgical Emergencies in the Newborn in 1972. He was an innovator of numerous surgical techniques for children during his tenure at the University of Florida College of Medicine including the repair of congenital airway lesions. In 2009, Dr. Talbert was awarded the University of Florida College of Medicine's Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dr. Talbert had a passion for teaching and training. Many of the physicians that he mentored have gone on to be major leaders in pediatric surgery around the world. The physicians mentored by Dr. Talbert have created a 'living legacy' which he always viewed as one of his most important accomplishments. His legacy teaching and training recently earned him the Arnold M. Salzberg Mentorship Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In addition to his passion for teaching and training, Dr. Talbert worked as an ardent advocate for improving funding for children with cancer through the Children's Medical Services program administered by the state of Florida. He had a vision for improving the quality of care for children with cancer. In 1970, this vision helped form the Florida Association of Pediatric Tumor Programs (FAPTP) where he served as President of the program. The tireless efforts of Dr. Talbert and the FAPTP Executive Director and its staff led to hospitals and clinics across the state of Florida carrying on Dr. Talbert's vision for improving the quality of care for Florida's children with cancer by establishing a unique statewide pediatric cancer registry and extensive research funded in part through the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Talbert is survived by his wife of over sixty years, Alice; son, William David Talbert II; daughter, Alison Whitney Talbert; and granddaughters, Olivia Grace and Adriana Elizabeth Talbert. He is also survived by countless friends, many of whom he considered family.
The Talbert family would like to thank UF Health Shands Hospital and the wonderful physicians, including Dr. Bradley S. Fletcher and Dr. Jeffrey T. Budd, and staff who treated him throughout his illness. They would also like to thank Oak Hammock and its staff for the wonderful care and support that they gave him while he resided at the Memory Unit.
At Dr. Talbert's request, no funeral is planned. A Celebration of Life will be held by the University of Florida Department of Surgery at a future date. The Talbert family requests that in lieu of flowers memorial donations be made to the James Lewis Talbert Lectureship in Pediatric Surgery, Department of Surgery, Office of the Chair, P.O. Box 100286, Gainesville, FL 32610-0286 (www.uff.ufl.edu/giving-opportunities/007195-james-lewis-talbert-lectureship-in-pediatric-surgery/) or to the Ronald McDonald House of North Central Florida, 1600 S.W. 14th Street, Gainesville, FL 32608 (www.rmhcncf.org), where many out-of-town families of Dr. Talbert's patients stayed while their children recovered from their medical treatments. Please visit his memorial page at

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Published in Gainesville Sun from Jul. 7 to Jul. 8, 2019.
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11 entries
August 25, 2019
Dr, Talbert saved my young son's life when Andrew was born. Now Andrew is in medical school to become a doctor. Thank you, James Talbert.
July 17, 2019
Jim Talbert was a true "man for all seasons". The smile in his photo is the way all of us will remember him. The University of Florida was quite lucky as it launched its medical school. Many faculty members went on to distinguish themselves but very few, if any, measured up to Jim. He trained several Pediatric Chairs across the country and had them "stolen" from him by other institutions regularly. Actually this is a compliment since one responsibility of a teacher is to replicate yourself over and over again. These individuals who move on, then extend the influence of the teacher into several corners of the world. I think specifically of Dr. Mozam, one of the first women surgical faculty members at UF.

Jim would then do the work himself until he found the next "perfect person" with whom to work. He worked tirelessly and with the same good humor and the smile that you see.

To not be repetitive but I will. Jim is the true mentor, meaning that his teaching will remain in the hearts, minds and hands of those whom he trained. In the same fashion those lucky individuals to be trained by Jim's trainees, will carry his strong moral character and thoughtfulness through out the ages.

I am proud to say "he was my friend".
Edward Copeland
July 17, 2019
Edward Copeland
July 12, 2019
I worked with Dr. Talbert in the Department of Surgery when I started at the University of Florida College of Medicine in 1983. Dr. Talbert was always so kind and caring. My thoughts and prayers to all who loved him. Rita Muñoz Singletary
Rita Munoz Singletary
July 11, 2019
I worked with Dr. Talbert for many years as an Administrator in the Department of Surgery. Both he and Mrs, Talbert showed me many courtesies. He was a fine person. My condolences to his family.
Nancy Clyatt
July 10, 2019
Dr. Talbert was my mentor and friend. He made me a better doctor. I miss him. I am thankful I still have his wife and my best friend, Alice, in my life. Shirley Graves Modell
July 9, 2019
Many thanks to Dr. Talbert for his patient and careful teaching of children's families as well as health care professionals, and his advocacy for Children's Medical Services.
Kathleen Maynard
July 9, 2019
Kathleen Maynard
July 9, 2019
What a wonderful delicate Doctor and awesome person ,and thanks for sharing him.
kimberly mitchem
July 8, 2019
Brilliant mentor and wonderful colleague and friend for all of my career at UF Medical School. Gave so much to children, students and fellow faculty. Job well done Jim!. Dixon Walker
July 7, 2019
Dr. Talbert performed surgery at Shand's on one of our daughters when she was 5 weeks old (but was 6 weeks premature) for pyloric stenosis. She is now 33 and just had surgery for appendicitis. The surgeon commented on how nice her previous surgical scar looked! We know we were so blessed to have Dr Talbert's surgical expertise.
Carol Huegel
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