Roy Glenwood Spurling, MD
ROY GLENWOOD SPURLING was born September 6, 1894, at Centralia, Missouri, and died February 7, 1968, at La Jolla, California. He was educated in the public schools of Centralia and Columbia, Missouri, at the University of Missouri (B.A.,1920; M.A.,1923) and at Harvard College (M.D., with honors, 1923).
While attending the public schools, he became an expert violin cellist, using his skill to support himself through college. His music remained a source of great personal pleasure throughout his life.
He was a surgical house officer and assistant surgical resident at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital for two years, and surgical resident at the Louisville General Hospital for one year. He had planned a career in general surgery, but after the experience and inspiration gained from Dr. Cushing at Peter Bent Brigham, he directed his intellect and energy to neurosurgery, becoming the Neurosurgical Consultant at the Louisville General Hospital while still the resident surgeon. He was then persuaded to establish a neurosurgical service at the school; this was done on July 1, 1926, and he remained in charge until his retirement in 1960.
In 1931, he suggested the formation of a national neurosurgical society which was organized later that year and named for Dr. Cushing. He was one of the delegates from the Harvey Cushing Society, which, in conjunction with representatives from the Society of Neurological Surgeons, formed the American Board of Neurological Surgery. He subsequently served as vice-chairman and chairman of that Board.
While he was in the Army in World War II, he joined the original editorial board of the
Journal of Neurosurgery
under Gil Horrax; he was later chairman of that board, and advisor to the board until his death.
At the Walter Reed General Hospital, he formed the first neurosurgical service in the Army. While serving as Assistant Chief of General Surgery, he was, in fact, organizing neurosurgery for the entire Army, and, after March, 1944, he was responsible for all neurosurgical services in Europe. He finished his military duty in the Surgeon General’s office, and was en route home when General Patton was injured. In response to Mrs. Patton’s request, he put on his uniform again and returned to France to care for the General.
In 1935, the first of six editions of
Practical Neurological Diagnosis, with Special Reference to Problems of Neurosurgery
were published His bibliography contains more than 100 scientific articles, four monographs, and five chapters in surgical works. He was co-editor of
The American Lecture Series
, published by Charles C. Thomas, and co-editor of
Surgery in World War II (Neurosurgery)
. He is perhaps most widely known for his work with intervertebral discs.
Many honors came to Dr. Spurling. Perhaps the one closest to his heart was the title of "Distinguished Professor of Neurological Surgery," conferred upon him by the University of Louisville at the time of his retirement in 1960.
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