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JUNE 18, 2023


When I finished medical school at Tulane in 1953, I was accepted as an intern at Philadelphia General Hospital, a coveted internship at the time. I was both pleased and proud to have been accepted, and no surprise, my fellow interns were a wonderful bunch.


One of the best and brightest was Bill Matory. Bill was smart without being a showoff; funny without being crude; and confident without being cocky. He was also hard to beat at the pool table in the intern's quarters. From the cleaning ladies to the professors, everyone liked Bill, especially his patients. He was a kind and caring doctor and a graduate of Howard Medical School in Washington, D. C. In 1953, Howard had only Negro students.


On our last day, as we were all saying goodbye before scattering like a flock of quail, I said goodbye to Bill who was going back to Washington while I was going back to New Orleans. As we shook hands, my parting words were, “Bill, if you are ever in New Orleans, call and come by my house for a drink.” He didn’t say anything, but his face changed, and I knew what he was thinking. “In New Orleans? Are you crazy? Don’t you know anything? I apolgized this way, “I’m sorry. I said that without thinking. What I meant to say was, If you are ever in New Orleans, please call me. I would love to have you over for a drink.”


Bill didn’t call, and I haven’t gone to Washington. I’ve neither seen nor heard from him again, but as I was writing this, I Googled him and learned that he had died. As I would have expected, Bill had a very distinguished career. Serving as Professor of Surgery at his alma mater was just a small part of his achievements and honors. Nor was it a surprise that his obituary said that his children inherited his intelligence, his dedication and his work ethic. Two are physicians, one is an anthropology professor at Harvard, one is an attorney and one is a Marine Corps captain.


'Requiescat in pace', my friend.

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