Lives of the fellows

William Shainline Middleton

b.7 January 1890 d.9 September 1975
MD Penn(1911) ScD(1946) FRCP(1943) Hon DSc Cantab(1950)

William Shainline Middleton was professor of medicine and second dean of the University of Wisconsin Medical School. He was appointed in 1934 and served the university for twenty years. He was bom in Norristown, Pennsylvania, USA, the son of Daniel Shepherd Middleton, a wholesale merchant, and his wife Ann Sophia Holstein Shainline, whose father was an ironmaster. He was educated at local schools and the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated in 1911.

He was noted for saying that the most influential period of his medical apprenticeship was as house officer to David Riesman at Philadelphia General Hospital. From there he moved to the University of Wisconsin as physician to the students. In both world wars he volunteered early for service, and in the second became chief consultant in medicine for the European theatre of operations. For his work to promote effective collaboration with British military and civilian medical teams an honorary doctorate was conferred on him by the University of Cambridge, and he received several honorary degrees from other distinguished universities. He also served a term as president of the American College of Physicians.

In 1921 he married Maude Hazel Webster, daughter of a farmer. They had no children. His spare time was devoted to raising roses and the study of medical history and biography. He also enjoyed tennis and swimming.

Many of Wisconsin’s medical graduates believe his finest attribute was his keen interest in the development of scholarly activity and professional maturation of medical students. His admiration for excellence was exceeded only by his fondness for decisive commitment to service. Until he retired in 1955, he had a pertinent and penetrating nickname for each student. He published several hundred publications ranging from important research on venous pressure to recognized authoritative works on medical history.

After retirement he became the chief medical director of the Veterans Administration. His commitment to quality promoted improved opportunities for academic activity in the system. He also continued to maintain a keen intereest in clinical and bedside medicine. After eight years in Washington, he spent a year as Visiting Professor to the University of Oklahoma, before returning to Madison for another decade at the Veterans Hospital. His popularity can be judged from the fact that he was repeatedly chosen by students as their most distinguished teacher - on the last occasion when he was 83 years old. He was a man of vision, energy, integrity and enthusiasm, with a keen sense of loyalty to his friends, institution and country.

Sir Gordon Wolstenholme
V Luniewska

[Trans. Ass. Amer. Phycns., 1978, 26-27]

(Volume VI, page 338)

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