Obituaries

Raymond C. Read

Photo of Raymond C. Read
Dr. Raymond C. Read, surgeon, early anti-smoking advocate, and pioneer in hernia research, died in late November at age 90 in Rockville, Maryland. His contagious zest for life, keen intellect, and strength of character touched many over his long life of public service and family devotion. Born and raised in London, England during the Depression and World War II, Dr. Read overcame family tragedies, financial challenges, and the Blitz through focus on academic study. His self-discipline and teacher mentorship won him a scholarship to Cambridge University in 1941, where he earned a B.A. in natural sciences. He received a Rockefeller scholarship, enabling him to obtain his M.D. at the University of Minnesota. In 1944, Dr. Read sailed to the United States on the S.S. Mauritania, which zigzagged across the Atlantic to avoid German U-boats. In Minneapolis, he met Lillian, a nurse, who became his wife of 64 years. Together, they returned to England in 1946, where Dr. Read completed his MB BCh and his MA with first class honors at Cambridge University and also his military service in the British Royal Air Force. He obtained residency training at Kings College Hospital in London. Dr. Read became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England before returning to the U.S. to obtain graduate training at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston as the Harvey Cushing Fellow in Surgery at Harvard Medical School. Subsequently, he earned his MS in physiology and his PhD in surgery at the University of Minnesota, where he was a resident in surgery at the University of Minnesota Hospitals and then Chief Resident. He was an Instructor and then Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota, and became a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Read was Board-certified in Surgery and Thoracic Surgery. His career as a general and thoracic surgeon, surgery professor, and medical researcher, took him to Wayne State University in Detroit, where he was Associate Professor of Surgery, and, by 1966, to Little Rock as the Chief of Surgical Services at the U.S. Veterans Administration Hospital and Professor of Surgery at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. He retired in 2001 at age 77. Dr. Read's career spanned several decades. A staunch advocate of scientific truths and the importance of education and lifelong learning, he valued his role as a teacher of the next generations of surgeons. His contribution to medical research is chronicled in over 500 publications over a 60 year period beginning in 1953. He was a founding member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and of the American Hernia Society. Dr. Read served as President of the Association of Veterans Administration Surgeons, the Southwestern Surgical Association, and the American Hernia Society. He was a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha national medical honor society as well as over two dozen professional societies. Dr. Read was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Veterans Administration Surgeons, and was inducted into the UAMS College of Medicine Hall of Fame in 2005. A leader in efforts to prohibit smoking in Veterans Administration hospitals, Dr. Read's research regarding ‘metastatic emphysema' revealed that chronic smoking could damage connective tissue both inside and outside of the lung. He was recognized as a pioneer in the field of herniology because of this and other research over decades, and was the recipient of numerous speaking invitations, including the keynote address at the International Hernia Congress in Berlin, Germany in 2009. With endless energy and enthusiasm, Dr. Read lived life to the fullest, never wasting time and continually expressing his gratitude for his many blessings. He had an insatiable appetite for the written word and thoroughly relished reading his beloved New York Times and puzzling over the crossword. Dr. Read delighted in listening to opera and classical music, greeting neighbors on walks, and playing a challenging round of golf. His Certification from The National Hole-In-One Association was a highlight. Dr. Read traveled extensively and remained attached to his beloved England, returning there frequently to visit family and friends. From escorting his children to a 1964 Beatles concert, to attending countless Little League games and piano recitals, he took great joy in his family. He is survived by his three children (Jeremy of St. Albans, Vermont; Charlotte of San Francisco, California; and Jennifer of Rockville, Maryland) and three grandchildren. Memories of his life well-lived through optimism and witty intellect, matched by his unfailing work ethic and respect for others, will be treasured always. He will be greatly missed. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Read-Gostick Education Fund, via Diane Kuwamura, Esq.; Kuwamura Della Rocca Law Group, P.A.; 1010 Wayne Avenue, Suite 350; Silver Spring, Msd. 20910.

Published December 5, 2014

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