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William V. Cone, MD
WILLIAM VERNON CONE was born in Conesville, Iowa on May 7, 1897, a descendant of a long line of Scots who had emigrated to America from Edinburgh. He was graduated from the University of Iowa (B.S., 1920; M.D.,1922). He was a National Research Fellow (1922-26) and Instructor in Neuropathology (1922-24), both at the University of Iowa, where he was greatly influenced by Dr. Samuel T. Orton, Professor of Neuropathology. In 1928, he left Iowa to join the surgical services of Allen Whipple at Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, and became an Instructor in Surgery at Columbia University. The same year, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for postgraduate studies in Europe (London, Breslau, and Hamburg).
In 1929, Dr. Cone joined Wilder Penfield and went to Montreal to McGill University, where they established a sub-department of neurosurgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital and Montreal General, which developed into the present Montreal Neurological Institute. He ascended the academic ranks from Assistant to Associate, and in 1950, was named Full Professor of Neurosurgery.
During World War II, Dr. Cone recruited, equipped, and founded the Neurological Hospital in Basingstroke, England. He was its Director for two years. At the war’s end, he returned to Montreal. He was a Charter Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada, and was Chairman of its Committee of Neurosurgery (1951-52). He also served the American Board of Neurological Surgery (1952-58). Dr. Cone was associated with a number of medical and scientific societies in Canada and the United States, and published over 50 papers in the areas of neuropathology and neurosurgery.
He made many original contributions in his clinical work, including the use of the twist drill in the diagnosis of intracranial lesions, the use of skeletal traction in spinal injuries, and fusion of spinal dislocations. He maintained a strong interest in neurology and neuropathology, in addition to neurosurgery.
Dr. Cone was an enthusiastic teacher, who was loved and respected by students and house officer, alike. His devotion to patients and his attention to clinical detail were known to all with whom he was associated, and he carried a heavy load in the development of the Montreal Neurological Institute with Dr. Penfield. He devoted many long hours to research, pathology, surgery, and teaching, so that his patients might have the benefit of the best available treatment and care.
His colleague, Arthur Elvidge, wrote of Dr. Cone: "His work will shine for many years to come, to brighten the way for patients, students, and colleagues. He came to McGill and gave all he had. I saw him come, and I felt him go."
During all of his years of work, Dr. Cone was encouraged and supported by his gracious wife, Av, whom he married in Muscatine, Iowa, in 1922.
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