Edwin J. DeCosta, MD

Edwin J. DeCosta


Edwin J. DeCosta, MD, was elected a Fellow of the American Gynecologic Society in 1953 and of the American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 1957, distinguished Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University Medical School, died on January 26, 1995, in Chicago, Illinois. A captain in the navy in World War II, he is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Died January 26, 1995

Dr. DeCosta graduated from the University of Chicago and received his MD degree in 1929 from the Rush Medical College. He served his internship and residency at Chicago's Cook County Hospital and then joined the staff of Michael Reese Hospital until 1952, when he joined the attending staff of Passavant Memorial Hospital (now Northwestern Memorial Hospital). In 1946 he became a member of the Northwestern University Medical School faculty and was appointed Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1963. In addition to his fellowship in the AGS and AAOG, now of course The American Gynecologic and Obstetric Society, he was a founding member of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, where he served as chairman of the Illinois section and also served as chairman of the committee that developed the logo of the AGOG. He was president of the Chicago Gynecologic Society and of the Central Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. His philosophy of medical life was well stated in his presidential address to the Central Association, "Care and feeding of the young attending man." Ed always considered himself one of the young attending men. Probably his greatest contribution to obstetrics and gynecology was the article that he coauthored with his partner Ralph A. Reis and M. David Allweiss titled, "The Management of the Pregnant Diabetic Woman and her Newborn Infant," in which they demonstrated that careful diabetic management, good obstetric judgment, and intelligent handling of the newborns are the factors most responsible for excellent results in the care of the pregnant diabetic woman and that the vogue of continuous and extensive sex hormone therapy to pregnant diabetic women as recommended by Priscilla White was unwarranted on both theoretic and practical grounds (Reis RA, DeCosta EJ, and Allweiss, MD, AmJ Obstet Gynecol 1950;60:1023.) Dr. DeCosta's subtle sense of humor and intolerance of unnecessary surgery was shown in two very thought-provoking editorials that demonstrated his deep thinking and real care for his patients. The editorials were entitled "Those deceptive contraceptives" and "Dance me loose" and were published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Even before the advent of the subspecialty of reproductive endocrinology and infertility, he wrote the section on endocrinology in the Textbook of Gynecology by John I. Brewer. Many are called renaissance men, but Edwin DeCosta was a true renaissance man in that his interests were exceedingly varied. In addition to his medical practice, teachings, and writings, his interests ranged from archeology to anthropology, world travel, architecture, gardening, and especially art, as he himself was an artist, drawing, painting, and working as a sculptor in bronze and marble. He had a passion for collecting rare historic and early civilization coins, and he also collected stamps.

Edwin had a terrific family with his first wife, Marl Bachrach DeCosta, who unfortunately succumbed to an early malignancy. He had four children Mari Jane (Dr. David Lewis Terman), Catherine (Dr. Stuart Burnstein), Louise (Burton) Wides, and John Lewis. With his wife Alyce, he collected free art and actively supported the many cultural institutions of Chicago. Dr. DeCosta will be remembered with admiration and affection by his friends, colleagues, and family.

Submitted by Albert B. Gerbie, MD

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