Thomas F. Dillon, M.D.

Thomas F. Dillon


Thomas Francis Dillon, MD, a past president of the New York Obstetrical Society, was born on January 29, 1925 in the upstate community of Raquette Lake, NY and died on March 29, 2002 at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. His childhood was spent in the great outdoors of the Adirondack Mountains during what was known "as the great camp era." As a young boy, Tom was known to go fishing with vacationing dignitaries such as J.P. Morgan, Jr. at the famous Camp Uncas where his grandparents were the caretakers. He remained an avid outdoorsman, skier, golfer, and fisherman throughout his life.

Tom left the Adirondacks in 1941 to attend college at Fordham University at the age of 16. With the onset of World War II, he enlisted in the Navy in July, 1943 as an Apprentice Seaman. The following year he was selected for the Naval V-12 Program which allowed him to enter the Georgetown University School of Medicine. He received his medical degree in 1947 and was selected for a rotating internship and a pathology residency at Grasslands Hospital. In July 1949 he reentered the Navy now commissioned as Lieutenant J.G. (in the medical corps). He served through the outbreak of the Korean War until June 1951.

In July 1951, Dr. Dillon entered the New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center residency training program in Obstetrics and Gynecology. He was ultimately selected for the full five year program and graduated as chief resident in 1956. He became an assistant attending obstetrician/gynecologist at the New York Lying In Hospital and instructor at the Cornell Medical School. It was during these years that I came to know Tom, first as a medical student and then during my own residency training. He was doing outstanding clinical research on the use of oxytocin with Nobel Laureate Vincent duVigneaud while simultaneously serving as personal physician to many of the spouses of the Cornell students and residents. It is little wonder that Dr. Thomas Dillon became my own role model and mentor. You could imagine the honor I felt when he ultimately became my partner in academic practice. In the 1960s family visits to the Dillon homestead in Raquette Lake still remain some of my fondest memories and those of my wife and children. Tom rose to the rank of full professor at Cornell and Director of the Tumor Service at New York Hospital. In 1970 he was recruited to the directorship of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Roosevelt Hospital where he developed an innovative midwifery service. His professorship transferred to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. In 1982 he went on to become Vice Chairman to Hugh Barber in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at New York Medical College, and Director of the department at the Westchester County Medical Center in Valhalla, New York, a position he held until his retirement. During this entire period he remained an important contributor to the discipline and had leadership roles in our societies. In addition to Dr. Dillon's Presidency of this Society, he was elected to the Presidency of the American Fertility Society. Most of his professional efforts were devoted to the training of residents and teaching of medical students.

On a personal note, Tom had three marriages, each of 15 years in duration. He battled prostate cancer for a number of years and ultimately died of pneumonia and related complications at the age of 77. He is survived by his beloved wife, Jane, and his three children from his first marriage, Dr. Peter Dillon, Chairman of Surgery at Hershey Medical School, Pamela Shea of Jackson, Wyoming and Ann P. Dillon of St. Louis, Missouri, and four grandchildren. The loss of Dr. Dillon will long be felt by many.

Submitted by Irwin Merkatz, M.D.

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