Past Presidents

Past Presidents | ASCRS

1963 to 1964

By the simple process of election to the office of president of a society, the recipient of this high honor supposedly is capable of sudden metamorphosis from his former modest status to that of a learned essayist -- a wise philosopher, a knowledgeable historian, an orator possessed of keen wit and eloquence. An apology for my own obvious lack of these enviable qualities would be redundant.

Yet this moment thrusts upon me a responsibility which transcends the customary annual address of the president of the American Proctologic Society. For there are here assembled in joint meeting, members of the Section of Proctology of the Royal Society of Medicine and illustrious physicians from 55 other countries of the world.

Our prime purpose is to share and freely exchange whatever knowledge and experience we may possess, so that we may return to our homes - wherever they may be - with augmented ability to minister to the physical afflictions of the infirm. Yet, above and beyond this, there is most assuredly in the mind and in the heart of each and everyone of us, the earnest desire that this assemblage will serve to further a common goal of universal peace with security, health and happiness for all the peoples of the world.

It is of this that I would speak, though only as a physician, ignorant of the ways of politics and diplomacy, of social and economic pressures within and between nations, and of the military mights and rights which appear to threaten us all.

1962 to 1963

The American Proctologic Society is one of the oldest specialty organizations in the United States. Its first meeting was held at the Chittenden Hotel in Columbus, Ohio, in 1899. Fifteen persons attended that meeting but only 13, those who presented scientific papers, were admitted to membership. Even during that period of nascency, the highest standards were set for its activities, principles and policies. Since that first meeting, the Society has continued to hold meetings annually, with the exception of the wartime years--1918, 1943 and 1945.

In 1946 I attended my first meeting. It was held in San Francisco and, by coincidence, it has become my privilege and honor to attend this 62nd annual meeting again in San Francisco, acting in the capacity of the Society's President. It has been my privilege to serve as an official of the Society for the past five years, during which period I have experienced much pleasure and have enjoyed immeasurable benefits. I have learned much from the accomplishments of my illustrious predecessors and have developed a profound respect and deep affection, not only for them, but for all those who have become worthy of membership and fellowship in the Society.

1961 to 1962

To have served as your president during the past year has been a privileged honor. It was with much trepidation that i agreed to try to follow my illustrious predecessors. I have tried to serve our Society to the best of my ability under the watchful eyes of the Council, and have made no decisions without its approval. During this time I have taken only one liberty and that is to express my thoughts here today about the training and certification of a proctologist. This training, even today, is largely postgraduate; the undergraduate medical student receives little specific proctologic instruction. It is my opinion that more should be available. 

When the American Proctologic Society was founded in 1899, there were no opportunities for training proctologists in this country. The English were a half century ahead of us in this regard. With the founding of this Society, however, postgraduate training in proctology began, and it has been fostered by this organization since that time. Annual meetings at which scientific papers, basic science lectures, and symposiums on diseases of the colon and rectum have been presented, have contributed much to the knowledge of the entire medical profession.

1960 to 1961
1959 to 1960

IT HAS BEEN a great honor to serve as President of the American Proctologic Society. I should like at this time to thank the membership for this expression of their confidence. I have endeavored to carryout the duties of this office faithfully and I am profoundly grateful to every one who has worked so diligently for the Society during the past year.

It is with real satisfaction that I can report to you, that the American Proctologic Society is in excellent condition.

Many of you, and I am sorry not all of you, were able to attend the joint Anglo- American Sessions held in Atlantic City and London last year. The clinical session with our English colleagues proved so successful that all members in attendance unanimously agreed some steps should be taken to have regular combined sessions. Acting upon this suggestion your council has agreed that such sessions should be held every five years. The combined meetings would be held alternately in the United States and in Great Britain. An invitation to attend our meeting in 1964, and to participate in our program has been extended to the Section of Proctology of the Royal Society of Medicine.

1958 to 1959

An ANNIVERSARY is a time to pause and reminisce, to remember famous men of the past, and to review their works which form the foundation on which the present level of our proficiency stands. It also seems an appropriate time to analyze our present situation and to make predictions and plans for the future.

This is the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the American Proctologic Society and proctology as a specialty. The first meeting of our society was called to order in Columbus, Ohio, June 4, 1899, by Dr. Joseph M. Mathews, who was at one time president of the American Medical Association. There were 13 original members and the society was organized "for the cultivation and dissemination of knowledge in whatever relates to diseases of the rectum and colon."

The ancient Babylonians reported treatment of fistulas and listed fees for such treatment. Egyptian Pharaohs appointed physicians who 'were held responsible for the condition of various parts of the body including those in our specialty. From this time until the fourteenth century, proctologic conditions are mentioned occasionally in medical literature, but little of interest is reported. St. Fiacre, a patron saint of those suffering from hemorrhoids, practiced in the sixth century, but it was not until 1376 when John Arclerne published his "Treatise of Fistula in Ano, Hemorrhoids, and Clysters" that some of the present principles underlying the treatment of fistulas were first described.

1957 to 1958

One of the greatest moments of my life was when I became a member of The American Proctologic Society. I never dreamed that one day I might become its president. Words are so inadequate as I attempt to express my appreciation of the honor you have conferred upon me. There is no greater source of gratification in the life of any man than the realization that he has the confidence and esteem of his fellow associates. It has been said that it is difficult to be humble when one is recognized because of some achievement. I doubt the validity of this statement. Certainly, it has no application in my case. I am keenly aware of the superior capabilities of so many of you, my dear colleagues, that it would be very difficult for me to feel other than humble in your presence. This feeling is responsible for the depth of my gratitude which I am attempting to express so inadequately now. All I can say is that I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I hope I have been worthy of your confidence and even more important, your friendship.

The success of this 1958 Annual Meeting can be attributed to the interest of members of the Executive Council, to the work of the Committees, to the presentations of guest speakers and to contributions of members and fellows who are participating in the scientific portion of our program.

1956 to 1957

When you elected me your President you conferred upon me the highest office in your power to give and the greatest honor a proctologist can receive. This is especially poignant because all who have preceded me in this high office have been distinguished proctologists from large metropolitan or clinical centers, while I am a proctologist in private practice in a relatively small community which is nearly one hundred miles from the nearest medical school. This is an impressive example of the “American Way of Life,” and is convincing evidence that here in our great United States opportunity is truly unlimited. With mixed emotions of profound gratitude, and with justifiable pride tempered with humility, I thank you for this highest of honors.

The Presidential Address to an organization of this size and importance is traditionally one of philosophic reminiscences, pronouncements, and admonitions based upon a background of wisdom attained during a long life of professional achievement.


1955 to 1956

At the time of the origin of the American Proctologic Society in 1899, Proctology as a specialty was practically non-existent and some of it was in the hands of irregular practitioners. The original founders practiced by their own efforts and were perforce mostly self-trained in their specialty.

Since the founding of the Society, it has grown into one of the great national specialty organizations. Through constant changes in requirements, incentive has been furnished toward the formation and maintenance of high standards, which have increased as our knowledge has increased. The educational aims of the Society have been partially fulfilled by the annual meetings, reviews of the literature and publications of scientific papers in the Transactions.

1954 to 1955

You have done me the honor of allowing me to serve as your President. The esteem of one’s peers is truly a blessing in life.

I should like to share with you some of my most sincere reflections on the future status of the profession of medicine and of our specialty within the profession. One cannot have lived a full life and carried the responsibilities of leadership without some soul-searching contemplation. Let us consider and explore the following topics:

1) The training of younger physicians in our specialty of proctology;
2) the role of our Society in advancing knowledge in our specialty;
3) the relationship of our Society to the profession of medicine as a whole;
4) the responsibility of each of us as physicians to our profession of medicine and to the public which it serves.

1953 to 1954

The flood of criticism that is currently being directed against the practitioners of medicine has caused our profession to reflect upon its shortcomings and engage in some soul-searching of its own. This cannot fail to have a beneficial effect although there is nothing new in this concern of the physician over his own inadequacies and those of his colleagues. In the preface of an early text on proctology published in 1887, the authors voiced their concern over the practices of what they referred to as "the modern Western Rectal Specialist." They wrote: ". . . he now undertakes to treat other common rectal disorders as well, in a fashion peculiarly his own and suited rather to his own convenience as an itinerant than to his patients' real welfare."

We still have the counterpart of the old "modern Western Rectal Specialist" with us today in all parts of our country in the attenuated form of the self-styled proctologist who directly and by inference claims that he has certain methods of his own with which he can treat all rectal disorders without causing the patient any discomfort or loss of time and without the benefits of hospitalization. Practitioners of this type will be with us as long as gullible patients can be found, and vocal opposition alone will not be sufficient to counteract the discredit that they reflect upon our specialty.

1952 to 1953

The honor of having been President of this Society is one of which I am deeply appreciative now and I shall continue to be grateful for it through all the years to come. Until that honor has been yours, however, you never will realize how much this Society is dependent upon all of its members nor how much the accomplishments of each meeting rest upon the generous and enthusiastic efforts of the members of the various committees. I wish especially to express my indebtedness to the members of the Program Committee, the Editorial Board whose membership must remain nameless, the Committee on Local Arrangements and the Committee on Scientific and Commercial Exhibits. Theirs has been a long and often burdensome task. At this meeting we cannot fail to realize how well they have discharged their duties. My thanks go out, also, to those members of the other committees whose work is of undeniable importance but the results of which frequently are less conspicuous. This Society is indebted to all of its workers for their willing efforts -it never can repay them for the time, energy or thought that they have generously expended unless its members diligently try to emulate their example.

1951 to 1952

It has been a great honor to serve as President of the American Proctologic Society. During my term of office I have endeavored to execute faithfully the duties assigned by the Constitution and By-Laws, and by the will of the Society. On this one occasion, your President has the opportunity and privilege of expressing to you his own personal thoughts. He is permitted to select any topic of his choice for the annual Presidential Address.

The past, present and future of proctology have been reviewed admirably in the Addresses of previous Presidents. The history of the development and growth of this Society and its scientific achievements are recorded in the Proceedings of our Annual Meetings. This audience is a worthy symbol of the strength and dignity of our organization.


1950 to 1951

I come before you today with a deep feeling of gratitude and appreciation. The honor of having been elected and having served as your President during the past twelve months, has been a joy and a privilege that I will long cherish and remember. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my Committees who have worked so hard and cooperated so well during this period of time. Especially do I want to commend the Program Committee, Drs. Stuart Ross, W. C. Bernstein, Karl Zimmerman and our Secretary W. W. Green, who are to be congratulated for an outstanding group of papers. I am also particularly indebted to the Committee of Arrangements and Entertainment, Drs. M. Browne Holoman, Frank H. Murray, Harry Bacon and W. J. Burkett, who have contributed so much of their time toward making this meeting so pleasant and successful.

Following Dr. Harry Bacon and Dr. Louis Moon as President places me in a rather strange position this year. Dr. Bacon, in his address, discussed the National and International Responsibilities of our Society. Dr. Moon, last year discussed The Past, the Present and the Future. Therefore this leaves very little for me to discuss. So at the risk of being unorthodox, I am going to deviate from the past practice and confine my remarks to a few matters that have stood out to me as President concerning which I would like to make certain recommendations.

1949 to 1950

The final duty of the retiring president is to present a report to the Society. I believe that the report should concern itself with matters pertaining to the present status, to the improvement and to the future of our Society.

In 1948 at the Columbus meeting a historical review was given of the organization of our society from its inception. In my review I will consider some of the many recommendations which have been made by past presidents. I have reviewed their addresses since 1909. I wish to comment upon what has been done in regard to the accomplishment of the things recommended. All recommendations pertain in a way to the acquiring of our present status.

About every third or fourth year the definition of proctology was discussed, and it was slow in being defined to the satisfaction of all. A full and complete definition of what we believe now constitutes proctology was not decided upon until the charter for the American Board of Proctology was obtained. In that charter proctology is defined as that branch of medical practice which deals with diseases of the colon, rectum and anus. At the present time this definition seems to be adequate.

Repeatedly, past Presidents have made recommendations in regard to the size of the membership of our Society, each time urging that it should be enlarged so that proctology could be disseminated more widely.

1948 to 1949

It is a privilege to celebrate with you the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the American Proctologic Society and to pay tribute to our past presidents whose vision, ideals and accomplishments have formulated our present structure of achievement.

The half century spanned by this Society is not long if measured by the process of the suns but it is an infinite distance into the past if gauged by the revolutionary changes and events which have marked the passing of those five decades. Those fifty years have seen beliefs once thought immutable, principles once held to be eternal, relegated to the dustbins of outworn ideas. During its threshing the dispassionate flail of time has beaten the good grain from the stalks that bore it and the winds have carried the chaff into oblivion. Many in other fields of activity who for a passing moment might have enjoyed the world's esteem are now forgotten but the work of great thinkers and the achievements of noble characters in the realm of medicine are among the permanent acquisitions of this world which abide and continue to bless mankind.

It is good to lose oneself in contemplation of the past and in reflection upon the achievements of those who have gone before us.

1947 to 1948

The specialty of proctology in the United States was born .in 1899 with the founding of the American Proctologic Society at Columbus, Ohio. For almost fifty years our members have worked in behalf of our specialty but it is true, nevertheless, that in all probability this Society will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary only as the parent of a subspecialty of general surgery, having failed to produce an independent specialty. We must admit that so far general surgery, foster parent of proctology, has controlled its destiny. The American Proctologic Society is not entirely without blame for this situation.

In three important respects this Society has failed to fulfill its obligations to its members:

1) It has failed in its efforts to obtain an independent Board of Proctology;
2) it has failed to promote and activate an adequate teaching program for the undergraduate medical student, to provide adequate residency training for the graduate student and to provide a broad educational program for the benefit of those general practitioners and surgeons who wish to learn more about proctology;
3) it has failed to provide adequate opportunities for membership in this Society

1946 to 1947

As we come to the close of another year in the history of our society , it is natural and fitting that we should pause to consider how much we have accomplished of what we set out to do and the means to achieve those things we have left undone. In approaching such an appraisal it is tempting, particularly for one of my age, to become reminiscent or to dwell at length on the future. Let me assure you this is not my intention. Many years age Sir William Osler advised that man’s life span should be contained in three lock boxes, one labeled “The Past,” the second, “The Present,” the third, “The Future,” and that only the one labeled “The Present” was ever to be opened, on the theory that if one concern himself diligently with the present, the past and future will take care of themselves. It is this pattern, the present, the immediate present, which concerns us.

It is apparent that times have changed since the organization of our society in 1899. The placid days when we had time to work out our own salvation are gone.