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1932 - 2015

ARTHUR STORER MCFEE, M.D., Ph.D., 1932 - 2015

Arthur Storer McFee was born in Portland, Maine on May 1, 1932 and passed away June 20, 2015. As a child, at the age of four, he developed acute surgical mastoiditis which required mastoidectomy. It took four months for him to eventually recover. From that time forward his course was set to become a physician.

Arthur came from a modest middle class family and was educated in the public schools of Portland. Following high school he attended and graduated cum laude from Harvard College with a Bachelors degree in Romance Languages (1953). Four years later, Dr. McFee graduated from Harvard Medical School. Following medical school he entered into the fabled University of Minnesota surgical program under the tutelage of Dr. Owen Wangensteen. While there, he received a Master of Science degree in Biochemistry and a PhD in Surgery. A number of his fellow residents became life-long friends and colleagues. One of these, Dr. J. Bradley Aust, recruited Dr. McFee to become one of the founding faculty of a new medical school in San Antonio.

In 1968, Arthur and Iris McFee arrived to help build a new medical school in South Texas and they never left. Throughout Dr. McFee’s career he was a metaphoric vacuum cleaner for jobs in the nascent San Antonio academic medical center. At his peak, he was in charge of virtually everything surgical: the head of the Operating Room, the Surgical Intensive Care Unit, the weekly surgical faculty meeting, and the J Bradley Aust Surgical Society.

Dr. McFee's entire professional life was spent educating surgeons. At the very moment Dr. McFee peacefully passed away at his home, the San Antonio residency program he built was hosting its annual graduation ceremony, finishing the program’s 300th surgical resident. Dr. Arthur S. McFee, MD PhD played a meaningful and vital role in the education of all 300 of these surgeons, and his legacy lives on in the cumulative work of these dedicated professionals.

Forty-two years ago, as he created and became the principal steward of the Aust Surgical Society, Dr. McFee became the thread responsible for holding these surgeons together, gently but securely, weaving the past with the future. His mentor and teacher, Dr. Wangensteen was fond of a quote which is truly emblematic of Dr. McFee’s life: "A teacher affects all eternity, and the teacher can never tell where his or her influence ends.” His surgical children are transforming care across the globe, and Dr. McFee lives on in their work.

Not only was Dr. McFee the thread that maintained the ties between those men and women, but he also effectively served as the lubricant for the Department of Surgery, the School of Medicine and the University Hospital. Arthur McFee was a peacemaker, a builder and a problem solver: vital roles in any medical school, but particularly critical to a new medical school and residency program. Through his great service, Dr. McFee facilitated, molded and protected the residents, faculty and staff of both the Department and the Hospital, thus building a strong and enduring clinical and academic surgical program.

In addition to his beloved role as an educator and mentor of surgical residents and students, Dr. McFee was a leader in American Surgery. He was a senior member of the American Surgical Association, the Halsted Society, the Southern Surgical Association, the Western Surgical Association and the Texas Surgical Society. He served as President of both the Western Surgical Association and the Texas Surgical Society.

Arthur met his life-long love, Iris, during their time in Minnesota, where they were married a year before arriving in San Antonio. The couple made the move to South Texas, sight unseen. Iris McFee was the first administrator of the newly formed Department of Surgery. Together Arthur and Iris were vitally important in building a successful and strong Department, and together they became important community leaders, donors and patrons of the arts in San Antonio. Dr. and Mrs. McFee played critical roles in leading fundraising efforts for the San Antonio Symphony. The McFees were also generous and consistent contributors to the Aust Society; the School of Medicine (establishing an endowed Professorship in Surgery: The Dr. Arthur S. & Iris G. McFee Professorship in Surgery, and the Dr. and Mrs. McFee Veritas Group); Harvard College; Harvard Medical School and his hometown high school, Deering High School, Portland, Maine.

Arthur Storer McFee, MD, PhD, was a true gentleman, a highly skilled surgeon, and a quick-witted scholar. Dr. McFee committed his life to making the world around him a better place. Through the surgeons and students he influenced and molded, he leaves an enduring legacy in South Texas and across the globe. He will be sorely and sadly missed.