J. Robert Willson

J. Robert Willson, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1964–78, died Dec. 17. He was 81.

Willson chaired the department through some strong growth years and was noted for his teaching—much of which is remembered through quotations. When asked about his treatment of prolonged labor, he said “I prevent it!” On another occasion, he said that “Mother Nature is not a good obstetrician; therefore obstetricians themselves must be in charge.” His philosophy was simple: “It’s what you learn after you think you know it all—that’s what really counts.”

Perhaps Willson’s greatest legacy to the Medical Center is the permanently endowed professorship in his name, the J. Robert Willson Professorship of Obstetrics.

Willson was born in Flint in 1912. He attended Flint Junior College and transferred to the U-M, spending a year in undergraduate education. He earned his M.D. from the U-M in 1937 and completed his internship and residency in obstetrics and gynecology in 1942. He also held an M.S. in obstetrics and gynecology.

He left the U-M in 1942 for teaching positions at Chicago Lying-In Hospital. He moved to Temple University School of Medicine in 1946 as a professor and chair of its OB/GYN department. Former residents at Temple founded the J. Robert Willson Society in his honor.

Willson returned to the U-M in 1964 as department chair. He retired in 1978 but continued as the Bates Professor of Diseases of Women and Children and professor of obstetrics and gynecology until 1983.

He served on the editorial board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and was associate editor of the Obstetrical and Gynecologic Survey. He was the author of the Atlas of Obstetrics and senior author of the textbook Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Willson also contributed more than 75 professional articles and was an examiner for the National Board of Medical Examiners and for the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Willson’s affiliations and memberships included the Society of Gynecologic Investigation; District III of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; the American Gynecologic Society, which he served as vice president; and the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics, which he served as president. He also was president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

He is survived by his wife, Joan; his son, Richard, of Devon, Penn.; his daughter, Ann Dupre, of Toronto; his grandchildren, Daphne and Maurice, of Toronto; and his brother, Jack, of Maine.

A memorial service will be held later this month. Contributions may be made to the J. Robert Willson Professorship of Obstetrics, Office of Medical Center Development, 301 E. Liberty, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2261.

Roger A. Pack

Roger A. Pack, professor emeritus of Greek and Latin, died Dec. 20 at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. He was 86.

Pack joined the U-M in 1938 and was appointed a full professor in 1965. He retired in 1975.

A native of Ann Arbor, Pack received his Ph.D. from the U-M in 1934. He then taught at the University of Missouri and Ohio State University before joining the U-M. During World War II, he served in military counter-intelligence in Italy.

Pack was the author of Greek and Latin Literary Texts from Graeco-Roman Egypt, long the standard repertory in the field, and was asked to contribute to the Oxford Classical Dictionary and the Reallexikon fur Antike und Christentum.

Pack is survived by three nieces, Dorothy Patton of Royal Oak; Alice Bahls of Lapeer; and Margaret McCreight of Bloomfield Village.


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