A tribute to local physicians who made a lasting contribution to their fields—and to Dallas.
GLADYS J. FASHENA, M.D.
Dr. Gladys Fashena arrived in Dallas from New York following her marriage to Dallas physician Floyd Norman, and she proceeded to change the landscape for women in medicine. She was born at a time when there were only three medical schools in the United States for women, and women represented less than 10 percent of all practicing physicians. Fashena earned a master’s degree in philosophy at Columbia University, going on to earn her medical degree at Cornell Medical College in 1934. She spent the next half century in medicine, working as a pioneer not only for women in medicine but also in the fields of pediatrics, pediatric cardiology, and pediatric research.
Fashena was a charter faculty member of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. In 1940, she was named the director of the newly established Richmond Freeman Memorial Clinic, and she later helped establish Children’s Medical Center of Dallas in 1948. Fashena served as Southwestern Medical School’s professor of pediatrics until 1954.
Dr. George Race, one of her many students over the decades in Dallas, said that Fashena always astonished him: “She was a great teacher and a fountain of information in pediatrics and acid-base balance. [Southwestern Medical School] was incredibly blessed in having these fantastic teachers who demanded excellence.”
In 1976, Fashena became the first woman to serve as president of the Dallas County Medical Society, but she is best remembered for her groundbreaking work in pediatric cardiology. In 1983, she was awarded the Texas Pediatric Society’s prestigious Sidney Kaliski Award of Merit. She was laid to rest in 2000.
LUIS LEIB, M.D.
If you were born at Southwestern Medical Center after the late 1950s, there’s a good chance that Dr. Luis Leib or one of his thousands of students welcomed you into this world. Leib’s name is forever entwined with St. Paul Medical Center, now a part of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where he practiced obstetrics and gynecology from 1957 until his death in 1999 of cancer.
Born in 1931 in El Paso, Leib set out from early on to be an ob/gyn, and his decades of service in Dallas left an indelible mark on the community, his peers, and Southwestern Medical Center. By 1963—just six years out of medical school—Leib was named assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UT Southwestern. He likewise served as head of the obstetrics department for St. Paul, and later staff president. He was widely regarded by his peers, serving as president of the Dallas County Medical Society.
In 1997, UT Southwestern endowed a professorship in Leib’s name. Dr. Gary Cunningham, who assisted with the fundraising effort that raised 35 percent more for the endowment than was originally targeted, said at the time: “There is not another obstetrician-gynecologist in Dallas-Fort Worth who is more respected and loved than Dr. Luis Leib. He is a gifted physician, teacher, and mentor who has inspired many colleagues with his ability to do what is right while cutting across fiscal and political red tape. The love, respect, and admiration on the faces of his ex-residents, peers, and partners at the formal presentation said it all.”
CHARLES R. BAXTER, M.D.
Even had he not been on duty at Parkland Memorial Hospital on that dark day in November 1963, Dr. Charles Baxter would be well remembered in the annals of Dallas medicine. Born in rural Paris, Texas, in 1930, Baxter earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Texas at Austin. He went on to receive his medical degree at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas four years later.
He was a pioneer in the treatment of burn victims, later in his life creating what became known as the Baxter Burn Formula. He reasoned that burn patients needed extraordinary amounts of fluid, especially in their first eight hours of treatment. Baxter also established the first tissue bank at Parkland Hospital for the treatment of burn victims.
He’ll always be most remembered, however, for his efforts to treat President John F. Kennedy and Governor John Connally. Baxter was just 34 years old and the emergency room director at Parkland Hospital on November 22, when Kennedy and Connally were shot at Dealey Plaza. In a 1988 interview, Baxter said of that day: “As soon as we realized we had nothing medical to do, we all backed off from the man with a reverence that one has for one’s president. And we did not continue to be doctors from that point on. We became citizens again, and there were probably more tears shed in that room than in the surrounding hundred miles.”
Baxter was appointed professor emeritus of surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center in 1993, a position he held until his death of pneumonia at age 75.
PAST HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES:
William Beall Carrell
Edgar H. Cary
Marion Thomas Jenkins
Robert L. Moore
Charles M. Rosser
Donald W. Seldin
Harry Metcalfe Spence
Charles C. Sprague