Carlos A. Pellegrini, MD, FACS, Immediate Past-President of the American College of Surgeons (ACS), presented the ACS Lifetime Achievement Award to Thomas R. Russell, MD, FACS, former Executive Director of the College, during the Convocation, October 26, at Clinical Congress 2014 in San Francisco, CA. The award was presented posthumously, and daughters, Jackie and Katie, and wife Nona, accepted it on his behalf.
Following is an edited text of Dr. Pellegrini’s remarks:
It is my great honor to present the Lifetime Achievement Award of the American College of Surgeons. This award is presented to an extraordinary individual for a lifetime of contributions to the art of medicine and surgery, and service to the ACS. Not surprisingly, this is only the third time that our College has conferred this award in its 100-year history. In choosing Dr. Thomas R. Russell, the College is not only recognizing his contributions and service to the organization’s mission, but also is recognizing a dedicated leader, a compassionate humanitarian, and a man who touched many lives in ways that left us all better people for having known him.
A committed physician
Dr. Russell spent his youth in California and had the unique experience as a teenager of working as a wrangler at a dude ranch, a job that would have a profound influence in his life. After earning his bachelor of arts degree at the University of California, Berkeley, and his medical degree from Creighton University Medical School, Omaha, NE, Tom returned to the Bay Area for his surgical residency training at the University of California, San Francisco. His training was interrupted by service in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1970, during which he served as a Lieutenant Commander and flight surgeon in the U.S. Navy. In 1975, he joined a practice in San Francisco and began what would become 25 years as a practicing general and colon and rectal surgeon.
Tom became a Fellow of the ACS in 1979. He was Secretary and later President of the Northern California Chapter of the College. He was elected to the Board of Governors in 1990 and served in that role until 1993, when he was elected to the Board of Regents. His roles in the ACS as a Regent are too numerous to name, but included chairing the Nominating Committee and serving on the Member Services Liaison Committee and the Advisory Council for Colon and Rectal Surgery.