OUR SURGICAL HERITAGE
Thomas Bruce Ferguson, MD, May 6, 1923–May 26, 2013 G. Alexander Patterson, MD Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri
Thomas Bruce Ferguson, the 12th president of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons, died surrounded by his family on May 26, 2013. He was a legendary ﬁgure in the world of cardiothoracic surgery. His visionary leadership was
an inspiration to generations of cardiothoracic surgeons around the world. (Ann Thorac Surg 2014;97:1477–9) Ó 2014 by The Society of Thoracic Surgeons
r Ferguson was born May 6, 1923, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. His family had deep roots in Oklahoma. His grandparents were Oklahoma pioneers, having staked a claim there in the 1880s. They started a rural newspaper, which remained in the family for decades. In 1901, President Roosevelt appointed Tom’s paternal grandfather as the ﬁrst territorial governor of Oklahoma. Tom’s subsequent success as a writer and editor was perhaps genetically predetermined. His father began writing an insightful political column at the age of 17. He subsequently met his wife, Lucia Loomis, at the University of Oklahoma. After their marriage, they purchased the local newspaper, the Cherokee Republican. Walter subsequently moved into banking and then became a successful legislator in Oklahoma. His mother remained active in the news business. She became a nationally syndicated columnist devoted to the cause of women’s rights. Tom developed an interest in medicine from his maternal grandfather, Dr Enos Loomis, who spent his career as a frontier doctor in the Oklahoma territory. Tom’s family relocated to Tulsa when he was a young boy. He attended public school there. He went to Duke University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Omega Alpha. He graduated from Duke University Medical School in 1947. While at Duke he met Elizabeth “Libby” Shanley, his wife of 65 years. After his internship at Duke he spent a year in the physiology laboratory of Dr Landis at Harvard University. He then returned to his training at Duke, and 2 years of military service at Walter Reed Medical Center. Dr Ferguson then moved to Barnes Hospital and Washington University to begin his thoracic surgical training at Washington University under the supervision of Drs Evarts Graham and Thomas Burford. Dr Ferguson then joined the faculty of Washington University and staff of Barnes Hospital in 1956. Subsequently, he spent a few years in private practice in South Florida. He returned to Washington University and remained a faculty member until his death. He was appointed clinical
Address correspondence to Dr Patterson, Division Cardiothoracic Surgery, Washington University in St. Louis, 660 S Euclid, Campus Box 8234, St. Louis, MO 63110; e-mail: [email protected]
Ó 2014 by The Society of Thoracic Surgeons Published by Elsevier Inc
Fig 1. Thomas B. Ferguson portrait hanging on the President’s Wall at The Society of Thoracic Surgeons headquarters in Chicago, Illinois.
professor in 1973, tenured professor in 1988, and emeritus professor in 1994. He leaves a legacy of excellence in patient care, training, and scholarship that is hard to match. The major professional organizations of cardiothoracic surgery, The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) and the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS), have beneﬁted from Tom’s leadership. Dr Ferguson was a founding member of STS. He was a member of the membership committee and the annual meeting program committee. He served as Chair of the Committee on 0003-4975/$36.00 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.athoracsur.2014.02.005
OUR SURGICAL HERITAGE THOMAS BRUCE FERGUSON
Training Standards and Medical Ethics. He was a member of the council and was elected STS president from 1976 to 1977 (Fig 1). His presidential address, “Guilds, Boards, and Hobgoblins,” advocated for changes to the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, many of which were subsequently implemented . In honor of his many contributions, STS established the annual Thomas B. Ferguson Lectureship. A similar lectureship in his honor has been in place in the division of cardiothoracic surgery at Washington University since 1993. Twenty outstanding, internationally recognized cardiothoracic surgeons have travelled to Washington University to participate in our teaching program and honor Dr Ferguson with a series of state-of-the-art lectures. In 1991, Dr Ferguson received the STS Distinguished Service Award. Dr Ferguson also held important leadership positions in the AATS. He was secretary for 6 years. He was elected as the 62nd AATS president (1981 to 1982). He is one of only several surgeons who have been elected president of both STS and AATS. Interestingly, one of the other surgeons so honored was Dr Ferguson’s ﬁrst chief at Washington University, Dr Thomas Burford. In 2009, Dr Ferguson received the AATS Lifetime Achievement Award. At that time, this was an honor bestowed on only two other surgeons, Dr F. G. Pearson of Toronto and Dr Frank C. Spencer of New York. Dr Ferguson was passionate about the importance and signiﬁcance of specialty board certiﬁcation. He served on the American Board of Thoracic Surgery for a decade and was its chairman from 1977 to 1979. He often spoke of the necessity to inform the public of the importance of board certiﬁcation. Dr Ferguson was also a leader on the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). He served on a number of examination committees and was elected president of the ABMS in 1982. In 1987, he received the Special Award for Contributions to Specialty Certiﬁcation. This particular honor reﬂects the great respect that medical specialty leaders outside thoracic surgery had for Tom Ferguson. A good portion of Dr Ferguson’s later career was devoted to editorial responsibilities. He was appointed editor of The Annals of Thoracic Surgery in 1984 and served in that position until January 2000. During his tenure as editor, The Annals greatly expanded its impact, number of manuscripts, and circulation. Dr Ferguson brought The Annals into the digital age. As his Annals’ term was winding down, and he was becoming a senior statesman in cardiothoracic surgery, he took on an entirely new and exciting responsibility. He was appointed editor of CTSNet, the nascent World Wide Web portal for cardiothoracic surgery. Under his guidance, CTSNet became an essential tool for cardiothoracic surgeons and their trainees around the world, providing essential information, education, and access to the activities and scholarly content of all cardiothoracic surgical organizations. Not surprisingly, Dr Ferguson found himself involved in a host of other professional organizations. He served on a variety of committees of the American College of Surgeons, the American College of Chest Physicians, the
Ann Thorac Surg 2014;97:1477–9
Fig 2. Tom and Libby enjoying a beautiful afternoon at Busch stadium during the 2012 baseball season.
American Cancer Society, and the Council of Medical Specialty Societies. Despite his many contributions nationally and internationally Tom maintained a strong connection to his home institution and community. He was proud of his busy clinical practice. He was revered by his patients and by the clinical staff at Barnes Hospital. His door was always open for anyone seeking friendly advice or encouragement. He provided many of his colleagues wise counsel in times of difﬁcult decision. I fondly recall my own ﬁrst meeting with Tom over lunch when I was being recruited to Washington University in 1991. His friendly demeanor, enthusiasm for the institution, and conﬁdence in the future of the cardiothoracic surgery division were powerful inﬂuences on my decision to move to St. Louis. I was certainly not the ﬁrst or the last young thoracic surgeon to be so inﬂuenced by Dr Ferguson. Until the time of his death, he was a member of the Washington University School of Medicine Admissions Committee. He relished his weekly interviews with medical school applicants and no doubt inspired hundreds of them over the years. The award he prized most highly was the Sydney S. Pearl MD Award for Inspirational Teaching that he received from the medical school class in 1980. He also took a keen interest in the well-being of faculty, trainees, and the administrative staff. He was always enquiring about the activities and accomplishments of various children. Anyone mistaking the sincerity of his interest would be shocked by how much he had absorbed when follow-up questions were asked at the next encounter. It was also a pleasure to watch and learn from the sincere friendship
Ann Thorac Surg 2014;97:1477–9
Linda, and Scott, are wonderful people with beautiful families of their own. Certainly, Bruce Ferguson has made his own important contribution to cardiothoracic surgery. As a result, we were pleased to have him back to Washington University as a recent Ferguson lecturer. It was wonderful to see Tom and Libby sitting in the front row of the lecture hall, bursting with pride during Bruce’s outstanding lecture in honor of his dad. I am particularly grateful to Tom for his continuous support of the division of cardiothoracic surgery at Washington University. Drs Jim Cox and Joel Cooper who preceded me as division chief share that sentiment. Dr Ferguson was an enthusiastic friend and supporter of all of us. He was excited to be an active member of our team for nearly 60 years, until his passing. Bernard of Chartres (John of Salisbury, 1159) stated that we see so far because we are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants; an observation also made by Sir Isaac Newton. Tom Ferguson is a perfect example of this phenomenon. By his leadership and example, Dr Thomas B. Ferguson left us an indelible legacy that we all aspire to maintain.
Reference 1. Ferguson TB. Guilds, boards, and hobgoblins. Ann Thorac Surg 1977;24:6–18.
Tom shared with his career-long partner, Dr Charles Roper, himself a thoracic surgery legend in St. Louis. Tom was also very active outside his professional life. The congregation of The Church of St. Michael & St. George in Clayton, Missouri, recognized Tom as a leader. His deep involvement and commitment to the church were movingly described by the Reverend Michael Wheeler in his memorial service eulogy. He was an active member of the St. Louis Country Club. He loved his time on the golf course and tennis courts. Our annual Ferguson lecturers and other visitors were often treated to a round of golf and a pleasant dinner at the club. Of course, Libby also achieved acclaim in St. Louis. She developed the St. Louis Magazine into the widely read deﬁnitive guide to St. Louis living that it is today. In later life, she studied Japanese and at divisional social events she could always be seen huddling in the corner practicing her language skills with our frequent Japanese visitors. She and Tom traveled the world together and enjoyed taking advantage of new experiences. Tom and Libby were diehard St. Louis Cardinal fans. They followed their team closely and enjoyed the times they spent cheering on the Cards at Busch Stadium (Fig 2). Dr Ferguson was an exemplary family man. His thoughtful and tender devotion to Libby was obvious to everyone. She was the love of his life. His children, Bruce,
OUR SURGICAL HERITAGE PATTERSON THOMAS BRUCE FERGUSON