In Memoriam

Remembering the faculty and alumni of
Columbia University’s College of
Physicians & Surgeons


Daniel J. Fink, M.D., MPH
Daniel J. Fink
Daniel J. Fink
Daniel J. Fink, associate professor of clinical pathology, died suddenly Nov. 27, 2007, after spending his entire 28-year career at P&S and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. A 1975 P&S graduate, Dr. Fink completed residency training in clinical pathology at P&S after an internship in internal medicine at Montefiore. He received his MPH from the Mailman School of Public Health in 1980. He also earned a master’s degree in engineering from MIT.
    He was founding director of the Core Laboratory at NewYork-Presbyterian and founding director of Columbia’s Center for Advanced Laboratory Medicine, where he refined and contributed his expertise in laboratory information systems, specimen handling, laboratory instrumentation, clinical chemistry, and epidemiology. He developed the first laboratory information system at CUMC and was an active participant in NIH-funded research. He was active in teaching medical students and pathology residents.

Alfred Gellhorn, M.D.
Alfred Gellhorn
Alfred Gellhorn
Alfred Gellhorn, a member of the P&S faculty from 1943 until 1968, when he left to become dean of Penn’s medical school, died March 24, 2008, at age 94. He was a prominent oncologist and medical education leader.
    Dr. Gellhorn became full professor of medicine at P&S in 1958. He was recognized as a pioneer in medical oncology and chemotherapy for cancer, being among the first researchers to use radioactive isotopes. He was chief of the medical service at Francis Delafield Hospital. As director of the Institute of Cancer Research at P&S from 1952 to 1968, he established one of the first oncology research and training programs in the country.
    Dr. Gellhorn returned to New York in 1974 to become dean and vice president for health at City College of New York, where he founded the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. After retiring from City College in 1979 with director emeritus status from the School for Biomedical Education, Dr. Gellhorn served as a consultant to the Commonwealth Fund, followed by appointments as visiting professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Harvard School of Public Health. In 1983 he was appointed director of medical affairs at the New York State Department of Health, serving under Dr. David Axelrod.
    In 2000, during Dr. Gellhorn’s second retirement, he co-founded the Gateway Institute for Pre-college Education, a program implemented in New York City’s public high schools to help minority and low-income students pursue medical careers. He was a member of the esteemed Institute of Medicine and past president of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Jane Morse, M.D.
Jane Morse
Jane Morse
Jane H. Morse, professor emeritus of clinical medicine, died Jan. 1, 2008. She was active at Columbia as a physician-scientist for more than 45 years and worked throughout her retirement on collaborative research projects exploring the genetic basis for various forms of pulmonary arterial hypertension in pediatric and adult patients.
    Dr. Morse, a 1955 P&S graduate, was officially retired when she made her career-defining discovery of the gene that causes familial primary pulmonary hypertension. Until her recent illness, Dr. Morse worked five days a week, and her long days included lab meetings and consultations regarding the more than 100 families she and colleagues studied over the years. In a P&S Journal article about faculty members who prefer work over more traditional retirement activities, she said she needed to work five days a week, not four, because “medical research is a highly competitive field. This is not dabbling. In medical research, it can’t be dabbling.”
    Her achievements are even more notable because she crossed fields into the pulmonary circulation and its genetic makeup in a second career.
    In 2007, the P&S Center for Women’s Health and the Office of Gender Equity honored Dr. Morse for her lifelong achievements in science, commitment to education, and her role as a model for medical students, residents, and fellows.


Arthur “Gerry” DeVoe
Arthur “Gerry” DeVoe
The photo that accompanied the Winter 2008 issue’s announcement of the death of Arthur Gerard DeVoe, M.D., the Harkness Professor Emeritus of Ophthalmology, was not a photo of Dr. DeVoe. P&S Journal regrets the error. Dr. DeVoe, longtime chairman of ophthalmology at P&S, died Sept. 19, 2007, at age 98.

Other Faculty Deaths

Joseph Fink, M.D., J.D., assistant professor of clinical pathology, died Nov. 1, 2007.

Gabriel Godman, M.D., professor emeritus of pathology, died Dec. 7, 2007.

Michael Lesch, M.D., the John H. Keating Sr. Professor of Medicine at P&S and chairman of internal medicine at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, died March 19, 2008. (A remembrance of Dr. Lesch, written by a colleague at Northwestern’s medical school, can be found online at

Alexander Levay, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry, died Sept. 28, 2007.

Harry Levine, M.D., a long-time member of the Depart-ment of Family Practice at Stamford Hospital who taught physical diagnosis to P&S students, died Oct. 29, 2007.


Class of 1936

Daniel J. Fink
Vera Joseph'36
Vera Joseph, a native of Jamaica and the second black woman to attend P&S, died Jan. 26, 2008, at age 98. Dr. Joseph served for many years as director of the Smith College Health Service in Northampton, Mass. She and her husband, the late Jerome S. Peterson’31, former public health director of the World Health Organization, spent many years abroad. She worked with the Medical Women’s International Association, of which she was honorary secretary, and taught for a time on the faculty in the Department of Medicine at the American University of Beirut. Dr. Joseph was a member of the Governing Board of the International School in Geneva and served as a consultant on public health and aging to the European Regional Office of WHO. She and her husband were co-recipients in 1974 of the Ira Hiscock Award of the New England Public Health Association for contributions in public health. Deeply committed to education, she established the Vera Joseph’36 and Jerome S. Peterson’31 Scholarship Fund for Minority Students at P&S. Survivors include three daughters, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Class of 1938
Julius S. “Bud” Prince, a pioneer in international public health, died Nov. 7, 2005. Dr. Prince, who spent more than five decades working for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Ethiopia, Ghana, and other African nations, lived his life as a great adventure committed to the planning and implementation of population and nutrition programs in the developing world. A volunteer in the Canadian Army during World War II, he was assigned to a mobile hygiene lab in the wake of a diphtheria epidemic that swept through his platoon. “When I got home,” he recalled, “I tried to sell the idea of mobile labs to the U.S. Public Health Service.” He subsequently pursued a master’s degree in public health at Columbia and served a decade as district health officer in Jamestown, N.Y. Earning a DrPH at Harvard, he was sent to Gondar Public Health College and Training Center in Ethiopia, ostensibly to supervise recent graduates in their first field assignments. Upon his arrival, though, he was immediately called upon to pitch in to help control a major malaria epidemic. He stayed on in Ethiopia for close to a decade, persuading USAID to conduct impact evaluations of the work of the Gondar Center. His subsequent adventures included life in a mud hut in Addis Ababa, a field trip with Emperor Haile Salassie, and a bout of near-fatal heat exhaustion during an investigation of a yellow fever scare in the Sudanese
desert. For his work in the region, Dr. Prince was awarded the Superior Honor Award from USAID. He later served as population officer for the Africa bureau of USAID. He is survived by three children. A loyal alumnus, Dr. Prince left a bequest to P&S.

Class of 1941
Norton G. Chaucer, a physician who devoted his career to public health and preventive medicine, died Jan. 17, 2007. Dr. Chaucer taught on the public health faculty at Yale University. The author of a book, “Tuberculosis in a County Jail,” published in 1953, he was also active on the Medical Advisory Committee of the Connecticut State Cancer Society. He is survived by his wife, Dorothy, and three sons.

Class of 1943D
Thomas P. Cronin, a retired ophthalmologist affiliated with the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, where he served as president of the combined staff, died Nov. 18, 2006. Dr. Cronin served in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps during World War II. He was a loyal and generous supporter of P&S. Preceded in death by his first wife, Ruth, he is survived by his second wife, Dorothy, a daughter, two sons, and four grandchildren.

Class of 1944
Joseph E. Welden, a retired internist based in Birmingham, Ala., died Jan. 7, 2008, at age 88. Dr. Welden served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during the Korean War. A former faculty member in the Department of Medicine at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, he pursued a private practice in internal medicine in Birmingham for more than 40 years. Preceded in death by his wife, Lola, he is survived by two daughters, two sons, and six grandchildren.

Class of 1945
Gumersindo Blanco, a retired thoracic surgeon, died Sept. 22. 2007. A native of Santurce, Puerto Rico, Dr. Blanco practiced surgery in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico, where he served as chief of surgery at the University of Puerto Rico Medical School. He served in the U.S. Army, retiring with the rank of captain. Dr. Blanco was the co-author of 44 articles on surgery. After retiring in 1986, he devoted himself to his passions for music, philosophy, and art and was an accomplished artist. Preceded in death by his wife, Ann, he is survived by two sons, a granddaughter, and three grandsons.
Leldon P. Pitt, a retired general surgeon, died Nov. 7, 2007. Dr. Pitt served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and was stationed in Japan and the Philippines immediately following World War II. He was affiliated for many years with Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, where, from 1985 to 1989, he was director of the emergency room. He was the recipient of the Orville C. King M.D. Surgical Award, given by the surgical residents of Pennsylvania Hospital to a physician who made a significant contribution to their education. In retirement he ran a horse farm and pursued a lifelong passion for horseback riding. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Pearl Pitt, a retired pediatrician, as well as a daughter and a son.

Class of 1947
Walker Dempsey, a retired family practitioner, died Nov. 8, 2007, from complications of Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Dempsey practiced family medicine for many years in Red Bay, Ala., where he helped to establish the Red Bay Hospital and served on the City Council. He served with the U.S. Air Force. Preceded in death by his wife, Eugenia, he is survived by three daughters, a son, 10 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

Class of 1949
Herbert Erlanger
Herbert Erlanger'49
Herbert Erlanger, retired member of the clinical anesthesiology faculty at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, died Sept. 27, 2007. From 1990 to 2005, he served as coordinator of the Weill Cornell Pre-anesthesia Testing Center and later taught wellness at John Jay College and Borough of Manhattan Community College. He was a singer and physical fitness enthusiast, passions he shared with his wife, Dr. Jane Katz, who survives him. Other survivors include a daughter, a son, and five grandchildren.
Yvonne T. Wyker, a retired internist, died April 24, 2007. She is survived by her husband, Arthur W. Wyker, M.D., two daughters, and four sons.

Class of 1950
William E. Wagner
William E. Wagner’50 with his granddaughter

William E. Wagner, a retired clinical researcher with Ciba Geigy (Novartis), died Nov. 23, 2007. Outside of his professional career, he served as a former Sunday School superintendent and longtime church secretary for the Evangelical Chapel in Liberty Corner, N.J. Dr. Wagner is survived by his wife, Eunice, two sons, and four grandchildren.

Class of 1952
William Pollin’52
William Pollin’52
William Pollin, former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the NIH and rear admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service, died of a heart attack Jan. 25, 2008. A psychiatrist by training, in 1983 Dr. Pollin condemned cocaine, in particular, as “the most seductive and powerfully reinforcing drug we know.” In 1986 he conducted a confidential study for the Senate Judiciary Committee to determine if Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist was addicted to the prescription sedative Placidyl. His findings were never made public. Dr. Pollin previously served as chief of the National Institute of Mental Health’s section on psychiatry and as research director of the White House Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention. Among other professional accomplishments, he was one of several researchers who helped prove that cigarette smoking was a form of drug addiction. He served in the Merchant Marine in the Pacific during World War II. Dr. Pollin was preceded in death by his first wife, Marilyn. He is survived by his second wife, Teresa, a son and daughter, both doctors, a stepson, Jonathan Amiel’07, and seven grandchildren.

Jack Reynolds’52
Jack Reynolds’52
Jack Reynolds, a diagnostic radiologist, died Sept. 26, 2007. Dr. Reynolds served in the U.S. Army during and immediately after World War II. He taught for close to a half century on the radiology faculty at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Dallas, where, among other honors, he had an endowed chair established in his name. He is survived by his wife, Mary Jane, a son, and two grandsons.

Robert J. Wilder’52
Robert J. Wilder’52
Robert J. Wilder, a retired cardiothoracic surgeon and former president of the American Heart Association, died Sept. 23, 2007. Dr. Wilder served in the U.S. Army during World War II and earned a Purple Heart. He was a member of the clinical surgery faculty at Johns Hopkins and served as surgeon-in-chief of the Baltimore City Hospitals. He is best known for establishing vascular surgery at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. In retirement he taught at Florida Keyes Community College and served as medical director of Medical Air Services. He is survived by his wife, Butz, a daughter, two stepsons, and three grandchildren.

Class of 1953
Howard K. Thompson Jr.’53
Howard K. Thompson Jr.’53
Howard K. Thompson Jr., an internist, died Nov. 8, 2007. Preceded in death by his wife, Christine, he is survived by two daughters and a son. He taught in the Department of Medicine at Duke, Baylor College of Medicine, and Albany Medical College. Dr. Thompson had been involved in the early application of computers to medical practice.

Class of 1955
John D. Griswold, a beloved retired family practitioner, died June 3, 2007. He served with the U.S. Army. Dr. Griswold was formerly affiliated with Sibley Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he practiced for many years. He was preceded in death by his wife, Dolores, and is survived by a daughter, a son, and three grandchildren.

Robert D. Langmann’55
Robert D. Langmann’55
Robert D. Langmann, a retired internist, died June 27, 2007. He served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, rising to the rank of captain, and then served in the U.S. Army Dispensary in Stuttgart, Germany. A private practitioner based in Stonington, Conn., Dr. Langmann taught for many years on the clinical faculty of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. He volunteered his care at the South Park Inn Homeless Shelter in Hartford. He is survived by his wife, Saren, and two sons.

Jane Morse, professor emeritus of clinical medicine at P&S, died Jan. 1, 2008. Dr. Morse pursued landmark research in lupus and pulmonary hypertension. In 2000 her team of multidisciplinary translational researchers found that more than 50 percent of patients with primary pulmonary hypertension possessed mutations in the BMPR2 gene. Earlier in her career, in collaboration with Drs. Berson and Yalow at the Bronx VA Hospital, she developed anti-insulin antibodies and examined the relationship between antinuclear antibodies and complement in lupus. In collaboration with her husband, the late Dr. Stephen I. Morse, she isolated the lymphocytosis-promoting factor for Bordetella Pertussis and published the first electron micrographs of its pili. A past president of the New York Rheumatism Association, she was a Master of the American College of Rheumatology. She is survived by a daughter and a son.

Class of 1963
David B. Davidson’63
David B. Davidson’63
David B. Davidson, a retired general and vascular surgeon, died of lung cancer July 1, 2007. Dr. Davidson served with the U.S. Public Health Service in Africa. He pursued many years of private practice in Santa Barbara, Calif. He was also a member of the surgical staff at the Cottage Hospital and St. Francis Hospital, where he was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. Survivors include his wife, Karen Sarnoff Davidson’70, two daughters, and a son.

Class of 1964
Martin G. Groder, a member of the psychiatry faculty at Duke University, died Oct. 12, 2007. As a youth he was a finalist in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, which set him on a path to medicine. Dr. Groder was strongly influenced by the theoretical principles of transactional analysis as developed by Dr. Eric Berne in his San Francisco Social Psychiatry Seminar and published many articles in the Transactional Analysis Journal. He served for a time as psychiatrist at a U.S. penitentiary in Marion, Ill., where he founded the Asklepieion Program. He later served as warden of the Federal Center for Correctional Research at Butner, N.C. He was the co-author of several books, including “Business Games and Second Chances: A Love Guide for Alpha Males.” He is survived by his wife, Leslie Ann, a daughter, two sons, two stepsons, three grandchildren, and a step-grandchild.

Class of 1968
Robert S. Jackson, a former commissioner of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, died Sept. 22, 2007. Dr. Jackson started his career as an epidemic intelligence service officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, detailed to the Hawaii State Department of Health. From 1974 through 1979, he served as director of epidemiology in the Bureau of Preventive Medical Services of the Virginia state health department. He served for close to a decade as commissioner of the South Carolina health department, where he initiated action to address the burgeoning AIDS epidemic in the state through testing, epidemiological investigations, treatment, and education. He later pursued a career in the field of addiction medicine, in which he developed a private practice. In 1994, he moved to Dover, Del., as chief of the Communicable Disease Bureau of the Delaware Division of Public Health. He oversaw the branches involved with HIV/AIDS, STDs, TB, and immunization. Survivors include a son and a granddaughter.

Class of 1975
Daniel J. Fink, a clinical faculty member for close to three decades in the Department of Pathology at P&S, died Nov. 27, 2007. Dr. Fink also had an MPH degree from the Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Fink’s primary research interest was informatics in the clinical laboratory. He is survived by his wife, Yvonne, and his daughter, Leslie, a P&S student.

Class of 1979
Mark A. Zatzkis, a respected interventional cardiologist in Santa Monica, Calif., died of brain cancer Oct. 24, 2007. He was a member of the clinical faculty in the Department of Medicine at UCLA. A partner in Pacific Heart Institute, an eight-physician group cardiology practice in Santa Monica, he was revered and beloved by his patients. His passions outside his medical practice included running, reading, the stock market, and his family. He is survived by his wife, Melissa, a daughter, and two sons.

Vera Joseph’36: A Tribute

By Kenneth A. Forde’59
Vera Joseph’36One of our outstanding alumnae, Vera Joseph’36, died at age 98 in Springfield, Mass., on Jan. 26, 2008. An immigrant from Jamaica, West Indies, she arrived in New York via Ellis Island in 1919. While attending George Washington High School in New York she won a scholarship to Barnard College, one of the first African American women in attendance there.
    She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in her junior year and, upon graduation, was admitted to P&S on full scholarship. She was the second woman of her race at P&S and graduated AOA in 1936. Dr. Joseph secured a medical internship at Harlem Hospital, an unusual accomplishment for a minority student in 1936. Two years later she married Dr. Jerome S. Peterson, a 1931 P&S graduate, and together they shared many years of public health service nationally and internationally, for which they were both formally honored.
    From tuberculosis clinics in Puerto Rico to membership in the Faculty of Medicine at American University of Beirut, Dr. Joseph was involved in educational, public health, and community activities wherever her husband’s World Health Organization assignments took him. She took on leadership positions in public health and aging and was Honorary Secretary of the Medical Women’s International Association in which she had been active for many years. When she and her husband ultimately settled in Amherst, Mass., in 1964, she joined the staff of the Smith College Health Service, becoming its director 10 years later. She served on many boards, including the Columbia-Presbyterian Health Sciences Advisory Council.
    Vera Joseph provided inspiration for many, especially women of color, from family friends to students at Smith College. The attributes describe her as “beautiful, bright, kind, thoughtful, accomplished,” “a bronze titan among minority physicians.”
    She was always mindful of her good fortune in receiving financial support at Barnard and P&S. She was concerned, however, that although 50 years after her graduation there was greater opportunity for minorities to enter medical school the financial burden was formidable enough to discourage many with promise. When her husband died in 1987 she established the Vera Joseph and Jerome S. Peterson Scholarship for Minority Students at P&S. Through this fund we keep her hopes, dreams, and contributions alive.

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