Dr. John M. Smith, Jr. Professorship in Family Practice
Dr. John M. Smith, Jr., was born to John M. Smith and Willie V. Burleson Smith on June 14, 1914, in Burleson County, Texas. He expired on March 16, 2003, in San Antonio, TX, where he had resided for 8 decades.
Dr. Smith was a graduate of Main Avenue High School, North Texas State University and Tulane University School of Medicine, receiving his Doctor of Medicine in 1940. After two years of post-graduate medical training, he joined the U.S. Army Medical Corps. His unit, established as a general hospital, deployed a tent hospital in the dunes above Normandy Beach to care for the wounded from the liberation of France. With France secured, the unit occupied a 3000 bed facility in Metz, becoming the principal facility to receive the casualties from the Battle of the Bulge.
Upon returning to the United States, Major Smith convinced his sweetheart from medical school days, Jane Jordan of Victoria Texas, to marry him. They began married life in El Paso where he was assigned to the William Beaumont Hospital, Ft. Bliss, Texas. Returning to San Antonio, he established a private practice. Dr. Smith was appointed to head a committee of the Bexar County Medical Society to study the health needs of the city. This early involvement in community affairs was indicative of the commitment to civic betterment that was to characterize his life. These initial activities lead to participation in the San Antonio Medical Foundation which ultimately proved successful in establishing and developing the South Texas Medical Center.
The Year the Texas Legislative passed a bill authorizing the creation of a Medical School in San Antonio, Dr. Smith was voted the Most Outstanding Citizen of San Antonio for his efforts in securing passage of the legislation. Other entities in the Medical Center have evidence of Dr. Smith's involvement in their creation including the Methodist Hospital, the CTRC, The University Hospital and others. Testimony to Dr. Smith's life long involvement in the affairs of his community, state and his profession is underscored by his having served as the President or Chairman of the following: Bexar County Medical Society, Texas Medical Association, San Antonio Medical Foundation, Texas Medical Foundation, American Medical Association PAC, Texas State Board of Health and Texas Medical Association Board of Trustees. His honors include: Distinguished Service Award of the American Medical Association, Distinguished Service Award of Texas Medical Association, The Golden Aesculepesis Award of the Bexar County Medical Society, C.D. Taylor Award of the Tulane University Medical School and Distinguished Alumnus of North Texas University.
In spite of the amount of time spent on civic affairs, Dr. Smith was an exceptional physician and surgeon whose career spanned over 55 years. He was revered by his patients who represented a cross section of the most and the least privileged citizens. They were all treated with the same compassion and attentiveness. His longevity in practice was witnessed by families with multiple generations whom he had delivered, taken out their appendices, set their broken arms, treated their heart attacks and talked to their children like a dutch uncle. His family and friends referred to him by several appellations including "Big John" and "Chopper", the latter indicative of his bull dog manner which could alternate between a growl and affectionate tail wagging.
Doctor Smith took great pride in both his profession and his family. This included those who secured the freedom of the Republic of Texas and participated in its initial governance. The fact that health education and health care became such an important part of San Antonio in a social and economic sense was a great source of pride for him.
In recognition of their father's lifetime of leadership and service to the state, his four children established the John M. Smith, Jr., MD Professorship in Family Practice at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Future generations of physicians selected to hold this professorship will be able to continue the life work of Dr. Smith, service to his profession and his community.
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