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James W. Davis, M.D.
1920-2008

On March 17, 2008, Dr, James W. "Jim" Davis graduated from this life. Weakened from Parkinson's disease and a hip fracture, he was able to return to the family farm and share his last precious days with his family on the farmland he loved so much. As he told me in the hospital, "It is time to take me home."

A graduate of the University of Tennessee and Tulane Medical School, New Orleans, he served in the armed forces in Japan following the war. He later returned to the Ochsner Foundation Hospital and trained under his mentor, Dr. Alton Ochsner. He finished his plastic surgery training at Barnes Hospital, St. Louis, and then returned to Chattanooga to practice.

One of the most respected plastic surgeons in the southeast, he was known as a quiet and reserved man: a tireless promoter of the specialty, his friends, and peers, but never himself. Not comfortable with the politics of academic medicine, he loved to share his knowledge and specialty.

He was most satisfied with his founding of the Plastic Surgery Group at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He led the development of the burn unit, cleft palate unit and hand surgery division of this large-group practice. He established the plastic surgery residency program at Chattanooga and trained many of the next two generations of plastic surgeons throughout the southeast.

When he was able to establish the cleft palate program at Cancun and Chetumal, Mexico, it was a dream come true allowing him to combine his intense interest in the Mayan culture with the joy of helping so many.

He was truly honored to receive the prestigious Pickrell Award from the Southeastern Society for his many years of surgical education and leadership. Of the many societies he joined, there is no doubt that his favorites were the Southeastern Society, where he made so many friends over the years, and the American Association of Plastic Surgeons, which he held in highest regard. The Association represented the pinnacle where the real plastic surgeons and the real heart of the specialty resided.

He represented his specialty with class and integrity. Many chose surgical careers because they knew him. He is missed by all who did know this quiet and humble man, whom I also had the honor of knowing as my father.

James W. Davis, Jr., M.D.

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