A Historical Perspective
Following World War II, there was an urgent need to
unite and absorb a diversity of returning established
surgeons and to provide a forum for continuing education
for them and the expanding number of surgical residents
in the greater Cleveland
The establishment of the
Cleveland Surgical Society was a natural outgrowth of
photo of the
War Memorial Fountain in downtown Cleveland
representing a human escaping from the flames of war was
adopted as the emblem of the Society in 1964.
When Dr. Elson Weckesser was
president of the Society, he had designed a Cleveland
Surgical Society tie with this fountain as its logo.
The first organizational
meeting leading to the founding of the Cleveland
Surgical Society was held at the home of Dr. Donald M.
Glover on May 13, 1948.
attended by thirty-five of the forty-eight board
certified general surgeons of Cleveland
who had been invited.
impetus for the formation of the Society came from the
desire of such senior surgeons as Dr. Donald M. Glover
and Dr. Robert S. Dinsmore to promote better
understanding among qualified surgeons and to provide a
forum where younger physicians and residents in Cleveland
could present the results of their individual studies.
Dr. Glover was elected
chairman of the organizing committee consisting of
senior surgeons from the leading hospitals in the city.
In November 1948, the
organizing committee chose "The Cleveland Surgical
Society" as the name of the new organization.
Membership was to be granted
upon application to general surgeons who were Fellows of
of Surgeons or who had been certified by the American
Board of Surgery or other surgery specialty boards.
Membership was extended in 1950 to all men so qualified
within a hundred mile radius of Cleveland.
In 1965, a candidate member
category for the Society was developed.
Those eligible for candidate
membership were young surgeons qualified for full
membership on the basis of their training but who had
not completed their boards or become members of the
In 1970, a By-Law change was
passed recognizing a new category of associate
membership to include those individuals who had given
evidence of exceptional accomplishment above the level
of their formally recognized surgical qualifications of
record, and who had advanced significantly the quality
of surgical care in the community.
The qualifications for
membership would require endorsement by letter of three
regular members of the Society.
category would also include Fellows of the Royal College
of Surgeons of
1971, Dr. Robert Izant, then president of the Society,
mentioned that surgeons in the Youngstown
area had requested consideration for membership in the
Cleveland Surgical Society.
It was unanimously agreed by
the Executive Council that the Society would be
delighted to have such a distinguished group of men in
Accordingly, a letter was
sent to all Fellows of the American College of Surgeons
in the city of Youngstown inviting them to membership in
1986. Following changes in the Constitution and By-Laws,
the category of candidate membership was dropped and
those individuals were made associate members.
The first meeting of the
Cleveland Surgical Society was held in January 1949 at
the Allen Memorial Library.
Dr. Donald M. Glover was
elected the first president of the new Society.
The topic for discussion was
graduate training in surgery in Cleveland, a subject
that has continued to occupy the attention of the
Society to the present.
Initially this interest took
the form of basic science lectures in microbiology,
biochemistry, and physiology arranged at the
for interns and residents of the local hospitals.
Later, the other modalities
for surgical teaching, including closed circuit TV, were
explored but were felt to be impractical at the time.
It was finally decided to
use the Medical
Postgraduate Course on Fundamental Surgical Problems for
Initially, there were to be
four meetings a year, one of which was to be held at a
A nominating committee and a
committee on Constitution and By-Laws were appointed.
In 1954, a Resident Essay
Contest was instituted with the winner asked to give his
paper at the annual meeting of the Society.
It is of interest that the
first winner of this contest was Dr. John Davis, now
Chairman Emeritus of the Department of Surgery at
He spoke on "The Value of
Colloids in the Treatment of Hypovolemia."
papers presented for this contest have been from all of
the local hospitals and from many outside the
They have been of a caliber
that has made the selection of winners very difficult.
On one occasion, there were
twenty-eight papers of such excellence that eighteen
prizes were awarded, including fourteen honorable
As recent as 1993, thirty
papers were submitted, roughly one-half clinical and
First, second and third
place prizes were awarded in each group.
Quite early in the existence
of the new Society, exchange visits with other Surgical
Societies provided stimulation and pleasant
first such visit to Chicago
in 1952 was an overnight trip on the New York Central
with a Clinic Day starting at 7:00 a.m., and ending
around 10:00 p.m., after a dinner meeting.
surgeons were gracious hosts and appreciative guests
when they came to
the next year.
The visit of the Pittsburgh
Surgical Society in the fall of 1953 was complicated
when the Tudor Arms Hotel didn't honor the reservations
for our guests because of a labor union convention.
Society's return visit the next year almost ended in
disaster on the last train out of Pittsburgh
with wheels awash in the flooding Ohio River.
were exchanged with the Buffalo Surgical Society, mostly
by train, with the midnight train from
not arriving in Cleveland
until 4:30 a.m. to the disgust of those who had decided
not to drive.
After some difficulty in
arranging an exchange of visits with the Toronto
Surgical Society, this activity was neglected for
in recent years have been more ambitious in terms of
distance and therefore have been by plane, with the
exception of the 1965 visit to
No one on that trip will
forget the two-hour delay at Larry's Truck Stop in
northeast Pennsylvania while the New York State
inspectors "took our bus apart and rebuilt it" before
allowing us to proceed.
Trips have also been made to
specific places of interest, not involving an exchange
of visits with other surgical societies.
the first of these was to the National Institute of
Health in Bethesda
in 1964, followed by visits to the Mayo Clinic in 1966
and the Lahey Clinic in 1968.
In 1969, the Society visited
at the invitation of one of our former members, Dr.
William Drucker, then professor and chairman of the
Department of Surgery.
1970, a three-day trip to
provided an excellent morning at the Baylor College of
A bus excursion to N.A.S.A.
or a Mexican tour completed the trip.
1972, at the invitation of a former Lakeside resident,
Dr. John H. Davis, professor and chairman of the
Department of Surgery, the Society visited the
This was judged to have been
on of the friendliest, best organized, and most
rewarding trips and not only for the skiers.
following year, the Society visited the Ochsner Clinic,
1975, members of this Society and their spouses traveled
Rico, for a three-day meeting with the Puerto Rican
chapter of the
In 1976, the Society visited
the University of Miami Medical School as guests of Dr.
Robert Zeppa, chairman of the Department of Surgery.
The attendance did not do
justice to a fine program.
pattern of the travel meetings in the past few years has
changed somewhat to joint programs with other surgical
In 1977, a joint program was
put on with the Toledo Surgical Society at the Medical
College of Ohio.
1978, we were guests of the Akron
group of the Cleveland Surgical Society, and in 1979,
put on a joint program with the
Again, in 1980, we helped
celebrate its 50th anniversary.
recently in 1990, the Toledo Surgical Society asked if
we would be interested in having a meeting in
One of the founding members
influential in shaping the early activities of the
Society was Dr. Carl H. Lenhart, who died in 1955, and
in whose honor a lecture series was established.
In 1957, Dr. Warren Cole
gave the first Lenhart Memorial Lecture.
lecture series became one of the high points of the
academic year in
The list of Lenhart lectures
is indeed a list of contemporary great men in surgery.
For some years these
lectures were given in the
On one occasion, a wink of
one of the owls in back of the portable bar had a
chastening effect toward the end of the cocktail hour,
until it was realized that the owls were not stuffed.
Other senior surgeons of the
era and early presidents of the society included Bob
Dinsmore and Claude Beck.
In 1972, the family of Dr.
Edward Rambasek provided funds for an annual Rambasek
lecture which was usually held in 1989.
In 1990, the suggestion was
made for more named lectureships in the Society.
Since such lectureships
would be limited by the limited number of meetings each
year, it was decided that the fall meeting should
recognize renowned members of the Society on a rotating
1957, some of the hospitals in the
area had the fourth year of their resident training
program disapproved by the Conference Committee on
Graduate Training in Surgery.
A letter was sent to the
Conference Committee for clarification of the
requirements for an approved program.
The most important result of
this letter was the appointment by then President F. A.
Simeone of a standing committee of the Cleveland
Surgical Society of Graduate Educational Training.
Originally this Committee
was designed to examine training programs at the request
of local hospitals and give advice.
The activities of this
Committee, along with the report on Postgraduate
Education and Training by Dr. Frank Barry, were given to
this Society in December of 1958.
As the Committee's
experience grew along with a reputation of scrupulous
honesty, it actually took over the function of
evaluating local resident training programs for the
The New England Surgical
Society was the only other local Surgical Society in the
country to be so honored.
In 1960, the Committee had
evaluated all of the local hospital training programs.
In 1961, they met with the
Education Committee of the Cleveland Society of
Obstetricians and Gynecologists to consider the problem
of an exchange of residents for suitable training in
The Postgraduate Committee
was inactive for a short period but was reactivated by
the President Dr. Stanley Hoerr in December 1964.
Committee consisted primarily of Directors of Surgery of
the hospitals with surgical training programs in the
Rather than being a
committee to review local surgical training programs,
the Committee felt that their function was to consider
and possibly define solutions to some of the thorny
problems facing the education of surgical residents at
Some of the problems
addressed by the committee were the use of private
patients in residency training and the danger of federal
programs such as Medicare to graduate education.
Other problems considered
were the teaching of gynecology in the general surgery
residency and of general surgery in the gynecology
residency; how the basic sciences should be taught and
integrated in surgical residency education; what is the
appropriate end point in surgical education; finally,
what is the place of such specialties as Urology,
Neurosurgery, Otorhinolaryngology, and Anesthesia in the
surgical education program?
This committee was one of
the most active and productive groups in the Cleveland
As the Society grew in
numbers, it became too large for the hospital type of
meeting with operative clinics designed originally to
occupy one meeting a year.
There was a shift toward
dinner meetings with prominent guest speakers and to
panel discussions of timely subjects.
In 1965, roundtable
discussions following dinner were instituted by
President Joseph Bilton.
This became known as the
Bilton Round Table Discussions.
Members were free to choose
between the 13 or 14 fundamental surgical problems being
discussed at the various tables moderated by
knowledgeable members in their respective fields.
In 1966, following the
establishment of a Surgical Research Committee, and
afternoon Research Forum was to precede the dinner and
Round Table discussion.
The Research Forum was
designed specifically to allow residents to present
results of their own clinical or laboratory research.
The combined program rapidly
became on of the most popular meetings of the year.
In 1981, it was decided to
combine the Resident Essay Contest with the Surgical
Research Forum to be held in the afternoon with the
first prize winning essay to be presented at the evening
meeting followed by the invited speaker's address.
In 1983, two prizes were
established in the Resident Research Forum, one for
clinical investigation and one for basic science
Subsequently, Dr. Joseph
Avellone was honored by the addition of his name to the
first place clinical prize.
In 1970, the Committee on
Graduate Education organized city-wide grand rounds.
Initially these were held at
the Scott Auditorium at
one Saturday morning a month.
Time was set at 11:00 a.m.
to permit attendance by people who had a conflict with
other hospital teaching programs.
Programs were then rotated
on an annual basis to Bunts Auditorium at the Cleveland
Clinic Foundation and then to the RB&C amphitheater at
In spite of obtaining
continuing medical education credit for the programs,
the Society discontinued the grand rounds for lack of
There was unanimous approval
by the membership that these meetings be replaced by six
evening dinner meetings a year plus the annual meeting
in May with scientific presentations by distinguished
Starting in 1978, there has
been a succession of evening meetings, usually with
These have been generally
well attended and have been popular.
A number of these have been
joint meetings with the Cleveland Orthopedic Society,
the Ob-Gyn Society, the Cleveland Radiologic Society,
and especially the Cleveland Vascular Society.
The annual meeting held in
the auditorium of the
in May of 1985 differed from other annual meetings in
that the honored speaker was not from the medical
profession but was Dr. Ely Ginsberg, Ph.D.
His topic was "The Future of
Surgeons and Surgery - No Easy Answer."
In addition, spouses were
invited at attend.
The response was excellent
and the auditorium was filled to near capacity.
In 1989, the Cleveland
Surgical Forum was instituted dedicating one meeting a
year with ten to fifteen minute presentations by members
or residents of unusual of perplexing surgical problems.
From its inception, the
philosophy of the Cleveland Surgical Society has been
that it is primarily a scientific organization
interested in patient care, research and education, and
not involved directly in social or economic issues.
In 1978, the membership was
pooled by letter concerning this issue.
The membership was nearly
equally divided, and it was concluded that the President
or the Executive Council should study the various
socioeconomic issues as they were raised.
In 1988, the January meeting
was given over to the discussion of professional
liability, evidence that socioeconomic issues had become
important in the agenda of the Society.
The Cleveland Surgical
Society had its 30th anniversary celebration in May 1979
at the Westwood Country Club.
Eleven of the original
Founders Group were present and were acknowledged by the
One of these was Dr. William
D. Holden, the first Secretary of the Society, now
Emeritus Oliver H. Payne Professor of Surgery at
1982, the administrative functions of the Society were
transferred to the Academy
In 1983, the Articles of
Incorporation for the Society were unanimously approved.
As a result, the Society
gained a tax-exempt status as a non-profit organization,
directed to the purpose of surgical education.
There has been considerable
change in surgical education, surgical procedures and in
the methods of surgical practice since the Society was
Changes seem to be taking
place even more rapidly today.
Representing the best talent
in the community, the Society is certain to maintain its
leadership in pointing toward excellence in patient
care, teaching and research in the future.
Back To Top
Founders and Past Presidents
(Approved May 2011)
Presidents 1993 - 2018
2018 - 2019 Officers of the Society