American Surgical Association Transactions

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1924 – 2014

In words he often applied to others, Dr. Raymond Read was “quite a lad.” Dr. Read was raised in London, but spent most of his life at academic institutions in the United States. He was a man of great intellect and impeccable integrity, with enormous enthusiasm for life and its endeavors. He died in November 2014 at the age of 90.

Dr. Read grew up in London during the Great Depression and World War II. He was an excellent student who overcame family tragedies, financial challenges, and the Blitz by focusing on his studies. In 1941, he was awarded a scholarship to Cambridge University. After graduating, he received a Rockefeller scholarship, which enabled him to study medicine at the University of Minnesota. In Minneapolis, he met his wife, “Ms. Lillian,” – who became his life partner for 64 years. In 1946, they returned to England, where Dr. Read completed his MB BCh at Cambridge University and fulfilled his military service in the British Royal Air Force. He obtained surgical residency training at Kings College Hospital in London and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

Dr. Read returned to the United States for graduate training as the Harvey Cushing Fellow in Surgery at Harvard Medical School. He subsequently moved to Minnesota where he earned a Masters of Science degree in physiology and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in surgery at the University of Minnesota. He completed a surgical residency at the University of Minnesota under Owen H. Wangensteen, MD, before joining the university’s faculty as a general and thoracic surgeon. Dr. Read was recruited to Wayne State University in Detroit, MI as an Associate Professor, and in 1966 he was recruited by Gilbert S. Campbell, MD, PhD, to Little Rock, Arkansas to serve as the Chief of Surgical Services at the U.S. Veterans Administration Hospital and as a Professor of Surgery at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). He remained a member of the faculty at UAMS for 35 years, retiring at the age of 77 in 2001.

Dr. Read was committed to truth in science and in life’s relationships. He had a great love for teaching surgery and anatomy as well as the proper use of the English language. Stressing the lifelong pursuit of knowledge, he often said, “We are all students.” He was an insightful and prolific medical researcher who published over 500 scientific and surgical articles. He is best known for his research into the etiology and repair of abdominal wall hernias. He described connective tissue abnormalities in patients with inguinal hernias and related hernia formation in smokers to an imbalance of circulating proteases and anti-proteases, for which he coined the term “metastatic emphysema.”

Dr. Read was an active participant in American surgery for over half a century. He championed superb health care for veterans and was a leader in efforts to prohibit smoking at veterans’ facilities nationally. He was a founding member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and the American Hernia Society. He served as President of the Association of Veterans Administration Surgeons, the Southwestern Surgical Association, and the American Hernia Society. He was a member of Alpha Omega Alpha national medical honor society, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and active in many other leading professional societies. He received numerous awards including the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Veterans Administration Surgeons.

Dr. Raymond Read will be long remembered for his keen mind, enthusiasm for life, integrity in all endeavors, and his loyalty to friends, colleagues and family.