Statement on the Passing of Dr. John D. Thompson

****Sent on behalf of Penny Z. Castellano, MD, and Ira R. Horowitz, MD, on January 12, 2017 ****

John D. ThompsonDear Colleague,

It is with sadness that we inform you of the passing of Dr. John D. Thompson on January 11, 2017. Dr. Thompson was Chair of the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics for 25 years (1961-1986), and a faculty member for 36 years. Our department is indebted to his vision and hard work during this time.

Dr. Thompson was born in Plains, Georgia in 1927, and was nicknamed “Doc” in elementary school. The son of an Emory-educated physician, he received his bachelor of science degree from Emory in 1948 and his medical degree in 1951. After graduating from Emory, he completed the gynecology and obstetrics and pathology residency program at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. After serving on faculty at Johns Hopkins and Louisiana State University, Dr. Thompson returned to Emory in 1959. Two years later he was named Professor and Chair. At the time of his appointment as chair Dr. Thompson was 34 years old, making him the youngest Chairman of a Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics in the United States at that time.

When Dr. Thompson arrived at Emory, there were only a few full-time faculty members. He not only built the faculty in size, he grew the department’s stature by recruiting such notable physicians as W. Newton Long, Luella  Klein, and Robert Hatcher. His personal love was gynecologic surgery, though he was dedicated to the total health of women, ensuring that the department focused on adolescent health, contraception, maternal mortality, infant health, and early detection of cervical cancer, to name just a few issues. His work was especially pioneering when considering the racial and socioeconomic issues at Grady and in Atlanta at the time he began his tenure.

Dr. Thompson trained many of the preeminent gynecologic surgeons in the United States, as well as thousands of medical students, residents and fellows, who may have feared his questioning during rounds but never forgot the answers they were assigned to find. He created our department’s Resident Research Day, believed to be the first in the country. Even trainees who did not pass through our program benefited from his work on TeLinde’s Operative Gynecology, the premiere text in the field of gynecologic surgery. He was an extraordinary teacher who left a legacy for our department.

Memorial services will be held in the Bulloch Chapel at The University Yacht Club in Flowery Branch on Saturday, January 14th at noon with a reception to follow and also at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church on the Emory University campus in Atlanta on Saturday, January 21st at 11 AM where the family will also receive visitors in the Church Parlor in the Church School Building starting at 10 AM. Please feel free to contact us if you have any additional questions.


Ira R. Horowitz, MD, SM, FACOG, FACS
John D. Thompson Professor  
Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Interim Director, The Emory Clinic, Inc.
Interim Physician Group President, Emory Healthcare
Executive Associate Dean, Faculty Affairs and Professional Development
Emory University School of Medicine 

Penny Z. Castellano, MD, FACOG
Professor and Interim Chair
Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Emory University School of Medicine
Associate Director and Chief Medical Officer
The Emory Clinic and Emory Specialty Associates