Thursday, December 9, 2004, Obituaries

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 3, 2005

O. Randolph Batson, M.D.

O. Randolph Batson, M.D., who was dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs in the 1960s and early 1970s, died Monday, Dec. 6. He was 88.

Above all, Dr. Batson was a pediatrician, and it was during his time as dean and vice chancellor that Vanderbilt Children's Hospital was founded in 1970. He also oversaw several building expansions at the Medical Center, and gave research a renewed emphasis. It was while Dr. Batson was vice chancellor that Earl Sutherland, M.D., won the Noble Prize for Physiology or Medicine, Vanderbilt's first Nobel.

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"Randy Batson's name is listed among Vanderbilt's historic leaders," said Harry R. Jacobson, M.D., Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs. "His leadership added faculty and space and brought this medical center to new heights Those of us who are carrying on in his footsteps continue to build on the foundation he left us."

"His contributions to the Medical Center and to the Department of Pediatrics were enormous," said Mildred T. Stahlman, M.D., professor of Pediatrics and a contemporary (and next door neighbor) of Dr. Batson's.

Dr. Batson was a native of Hattiesburg, Miss., and earned both a B.A. and M.D. from Vanderbilt, graduating from the School of Medicine in 1942. He was an intern and an assistant resident in Pediatrics at Vanderbilt from 1942 to 1944 before entering the U.S. Army, where he served as a Captain in the Medical Corps in Europe during World War II.

He returned to Vanderbilt to serve as a resident in Pediatrics and then a Pediatrics fellow in 1947, and later that year joined the faculty as an instructor in Pediatrics. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1951, associate professor in 1958, and professor in 1959.

Dr. Batson had a long standing research and clinical interest in poliomyelitis, and he served as director of the Vanderbilt Poliomyelitis Clinical Study Center from 1953 to 1963, and director of the Vanderbilt Clinical Study Center for Chronic Diseases of Childhood from 1960 to 1963.

In 1963 he was named Dean of the Vanderbilt School of Medicine and Director of Medical Affairs (later Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs). He remained dean until 1972 and Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs until 1973.

Although built after his tenure as vice chancellor was over, Dr. Batson was very influential in persuading Dr. Rudolph A. Light to donate money toward a medical education building, the structure now known as Light Hall, and was also influential in the development of the then-innovative design of the patient care addition to Vanderbilt Hospital called the Round Wing.

Following his time in adminstration, Dr. Batson again took up the reins of clinical care, research, and teaching in Pediatrics. He was named an emeritus professor in 1982.

From 1978 to 1986, Dr. Batson served as President and Physician-in-Chief for Charles Henderson Child Health Center in Troy, Ala., a regional children's health care facility.

Dr. Batson was a member of several medical societies, including the American Pediatric Society, the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy, and the Association for Academic Health Centers, of which he was a founding president.

He was also an avid fisherman and outdoor enthusiast, as well as a successful cattle farmer.

This year has been a particularly hard one for the VUMC family; 2004 has also seen the deaths of John E. Chapman, M.D., who succeeded Dr. Batson as dean, and Roscoe R. Robinson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs, emeritus.

Dr. Batson was preceded in death by two brothers, Roy Glen Batson Sr. and the Rev. Schuyler M. Batson; and a sister-in-law, Selma M. Batson. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Bennie Wells Shaw Batson; three daughters, Bennie Barbara Batson, Nellie Wells Batson, and Alicia Bond Batson. M.D., and her husband Bert Allen Hartman, M.D.; a son, Oscar Randolph Batson Jr.; and three grandchildren, Katherine Walker Smith, Mary Ellen Francis Smith, and Alicia Merriweather Smith. He is also survived by a sister, Ellen Rose Breed; two cousins, Blair E. Batson and John O. Batson, and a sister-in-law, Lucille G. Batson. The family also wished to express special appreciation to Moulton Todd for helping care for Dr. Batson during his last year.

Services will be held at 10:30 Friday, Dec. 10 in the chapel of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. A visitation will be held following the service in the Wadlington Conference Room of the Children's Hospital. Parking will be available in the South Garage at the corner of Children's Way and 24th Ave. S.

The family requests that memorial gifts be made to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital. Gifts may be sent to Vanderbilt Records Gift Office, VU Station B 357727, Nashville, Tenn., 37235-7727.