American Surgical Association Transactions

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1933 - 2013

DAVID S. SUMNER M.D., 1933 - 2013

David S. Sumner, M. D., age 80, retired Chief of the Division of Peripheral Vascular Surgery and Distinguished Professor of Surgery, Emeritus, at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, died November 24, from complications due to Parkinson's disease.

Dr. Sumner was an internationally known author and researcher in the physics of blood flow and an inspired teacher and mentor for young physicians specializing in vascular surgery. In his long career, Dr. Sumner served as the President of the American Venous Forum Foundation, and President of the Midwestern Vascular Surgical Society. He was a member of many professional organizations, including the American College of Surgeons, Society of University Surgeons, Society for Vascular Surgery, International Society for Cardiovascular Surgery, American Surgical Association, Chicago Surgical Society, Southern Association for Vascular Surgery, and the Seattle Surgical Society. Honors received during his career include an Endowed Chair in Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at Southern Illinois University, the Society for Vascular Surgery Lifetime Achievement Award, Distinguished Professor at Southern Illinois University, the Society of Vascular Technology Pioneer Award, the naming of the David S. Sumner Vascular Laboratory at Memorial Medical Center, and the naming of the David S. Sumner Venous Summit Annual Seminar by the American Venous Forum. He lectured around the world and wrote prodigiously for journals and books. He was most proud of the book Hemodynamics for Surgeons, a major review of vascular physiology, co-authored with his mentor and close friend D. Eugene Strandness, M. D. at the University of Washington in Seattle. The book is considered to be a pioneering classic in the field.

Born in Ashboro, North Carolina, he attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he graduated with a B.A. in Chemistry and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. In 1958, he graduated from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where he was awarded the Appleton-Century Crofts Scholarship and the Mosby Scholarship, and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha honorary society.

While training at Johns Hopkins, he met fellow classmates Dr. Roland Folse and Dr. Alan Birtch, beginning a lifelong friendship. It was also at Johns Hopkins that he met and married Martha (Marty) Sumner (nee Sypher). After completing his surgery training in Seattle in 1966, he served three years with the U.S. Army doing frostbite research in Alaska, where he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was awarded an Army Commendation Medal. Returning to Seattle, he continued his research at the University of Washington before being invited by Dr. Folse in 1975 to set up the division of vascular surgery at the new medical school, SIU, in Springfield, Illinois, a position he held until his retirement in 1998.

Dr. Sumner enjoyed studying the motion of waves on the water, programming solutions to probability scenarios and differential equations, and working on calculus problems and statistics, filling hundreds of yellow legal pads with equations. In retirement he rediscovered his early love of painting, especially watercolors, which he was able to combine with a passion for photography and travel that he shared with his family and friends.