Howard J. Tatum, M.D., Ph.D.

Howard J. Tatum


Howard J. Tatum, M.D., Ph.D., 87, of Atlanta, Georgia, died in Atlanta November 9, 2002. He was born on May 22, 1915 in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, to Dr. Arthur L. Tatum and Mabel Webb Tatum. He received his undergraduate, graduate degrees (Ph.D. in Pharmacology and M.D. in Medicine) and residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where his father was Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology.

Howard was a man of widely diverse interests and talents. He was trained in pharmacology, medicine and obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Tatum was on the faculty of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Louisiana State University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and subsequently at the University of Oregon Medical Center in Portland. Dr. Tatum applied his obstetrical skills not only in the care of his patients but he also delivered an elephant in the Portland, Oregon zoo and a fellow passenger on an Air Nigeria jetliner. He spent two years on sabbatical as a visiting Professor in Cali, Columbia (1956) and Buenos Aires, Argentina (1963). In 1966 he began working in the Biomedical Research Division of the Population Council at the Rockefeller University, New York City. While there he developed the Copper-T (Tatum-T) Intrauterine Contraceptive Device, extensively used throughout the world.

In 1981 Dr. Tatum retired from the Population Council and moved to Atlanta, Georgia as Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics at the Emory University School of Medicine, subsequently becoming Emeritus Professor in that department.

Dr. Tatum was internationally recognized for his multiple scientific contributions and publications, particularly in the field of contraception. He was a member of many professional organizations and the recipient of numerous awards for his scientific achievements.

His hobbies encompassed many different areas, ranging from playing the French horn and collecting coins and stamps, to building furniture and painting. For many years, he communicated with people all over the world on his ham radio.

Dr. Tatum was very active, not only intellectually but also physically. He was an excellent tennis player and loved to fish. He snorkeled, easily distinguished by his black leotard and white bathing cap, on the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Thailand and, best of all, in the Maldives. His travels took him to the Arctic, Antarctic, and almost every area of the globe in between, but his favorite spot in the whole world was the log cabin in Maine where he spent so many happy hours. Finally, he was a pack rat of monumental proportions.

Above all, "Howie" was a kind, caring -- albeit sometimes obdurate -- human being. He left behind his wife, Elizabeth B. Connell, M.D., three children, six stepchildren and ten grandchildren, all of whom loved him dearly and will miss him sorely.

Submitted by Dan Thompson, M.D.

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