Warren Harland Pearse, MD

Warren Harland Pearse, MD

Warren Harland Pearse, MD (November 16, 2016)

Dr. Warren Pearse died peacefully on November 16, 2015, at the age of 88. Dr. Pearse was born in Detroit, Michigan, on September 28, 1927. He earned his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University and his medical degree from Northwestern University. Following two years in the Army Medical Service, he completed his residency at the University of Michigan under Dr. Norman F. Miller. He initially joined his father in Detroit, Michigan, to practice obstetrics and gynecology. He later moved to Gallipolis, Ohio, and then to Omaha, Nebraska, where he joined the University of Nebraska faculty. He rose to the rank of chair at the University of Nebraska Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In 1971, he moved to Richmond, Virginia, to become Dean at the Medical College of Virginia. In 1975, he accepted the position of Executive Director of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), where he remained until his retirement 18 years later in 1993.

Dr. Pearse accomplished many goals in his career. He was an obstetrician–gynecologist in private practice, a university department chair, and a medical school dean. The culmination of these goals was his leadership of ACOG, which has had a significant and lasting effect on the profession of obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Pearse had the insight to move ACOG from its founding home in Chicago, Illinois, to Washington, D.C., in 1981. He recognized the need for ACOG to become more politically active, visible, and on the front line in the advancement of women’s health care. On the heels of the ACOG move to Washington, Dr. Pearse was able to acquire funding through a donation from the estate of Jay Bay Jacobs, MD, for the construction of the ACOG headquarters office building. Upon his retirement, the building was renamed the Warren H. Pearse Building in his honor.

During his academic and administrative career, he made substantial contributions to our field as a strong advocate for women. In 1990, he founded the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health and was the Founding Editor of Women's Health Issues. During his time as executive director, he made important contributions to issues facing obstetrics and gynecology. He performed a detailed analysis of work force issues in the field and provided honest, clear-eyed evaluations of the changing nature of the work force as obstetricians and gynecologists took on larger roles as primary care physicians. He also evaluated the emergence of women in practice and the retirement patterns of ob/gyn specialists, and played a key role in the development of subspecialties and the nature of residency education. In 1989, he foresaw the rapid changes in information that have come to pass and was intimately involved in addressing the liability crisis that deeply affected our discipline. In the midst of transformative changes, he remained a voice of wisdom and championed the honest, reasoned approach to change.

Retirement afforded Dr. Pearse the time to enjoy boating on the Chesapeake Bay, model railroading, curling, vacationing in Wisconsin, and traveling the Lincoln Highway. He loved history and was especially interested in early medical history, World War II, and Queen Victoria. Dr. Pearse was a devoted Nebraska Cornhuskers fan, and he enjoyed puns, jokes, and limericks.

His wife of 62 years, Jacqueline Langan, preceded him in death. He is survived by his four loving daughters—Kathy LaFayette (Larry) of Minneapolis, Minnesota; Susan Miles (Joseph) of Ashland, Virginia; Laurie Hudgins (Stephen) of Blacksburg, Virginia; Mara Burke (Richard) of Iowa City, Iowa—as well as his sister Mary Ray, brother-in-law Jack Ray, sister-in-law Connie Stanilus, 10 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren.

Submitted by Hal C. Lawrence III, MD and John O. L. DeLancey, MD

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