September 17, 1924 – December 11, 2019
Morton M. Woolley ’51 was born Sept. 17, 1924, and passed away peacefully Dec. 11, 2019, in Hailey, Idaho. He was a devoted and loving husband, father, grandfather, and uncle as well as a world-renowned pioneer in pediatric surgery.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, to Mary Beatrice Murray Woolley and Andrew Price Woolley, Dr. Woolley attended Worthington High School and Otterbein College in Ohio before serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He then graduated from the College of Medical Evangelists in 1951. During a surgical residency at Los Angeles County Hospital, he met Emma Jane (Griffith) Woolley ’54-AFF, an intern who became the love of his life for the next 65 years. They married in 1955 and moved to Boston, where he completed a fellowship in pediatric surgery under Dr. Robert E. Gross at Boston Children’s Hospital in 1959. Upon returning to Los Angeles, he joined the faculty at the University of Southern California and became professor of surgery and surgeon in chief at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles until he retired in 1992 and moved to Rancho Mirage, California, with his wife. In 2011, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Woolley’s greatest passion was teaching. He taught the first generation of pediatric surgeons, many of whom went on to become professors and heads of pediatric surgery at universities and hospitals worldwide. He published countless articles on pediatric surgery, including “The Death of a Child,” which remains the authoritative guiding source for medical professionals informing parents of their child’s death. He developed surgical procedures for infants born with life-threatening anomalies. His warm and calm demeanor soothed frightened patients and gave solace to distraught parents. His residents remember Dr. Woolley as their favorite teacher, for being a man of integrity, humility, and unwavering moral standards, and, above all, for his abiding love of children.
Dr. Woolley served as a founding member and president of the American Pediatric Surgical Association and the Pacific Association of Pediatric Surgeons. He was a member and examiner of the American Board of Pediatric Surgery and a member of the British Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and he was short-listed for the position of U.S. surgeon general under the first President Bush. He volunteered in Bangkok, Thailand; Beersheba, Israel; and Gyor, Hungary, teaching and helping with difficult procedures.
Dr. Woolley was instrumental in developing his medical school into the world-class institution it is today. He introduced the endowment program to Loma Linda University after learning how endowments had benefitted Harvard during his time in Boston. He supported and advised the new Children’s Hospital at Loma Linda, where his legacy will establish an endowment for pediatric surgery. Loma Linda University honored him as Alumnus of the Year in 1991, and he served as president of the Alumni Association of the School of Medicine (1965-1966). He was also named Distinguished Alumnus by Otterbein College.
Dr. Woolley is survived by his wife; children, Cynthia, Douglas, and James; grandchildren, Hillary Jane Powers and Edward; and many beloved nieces and nephews.
(Source: The Desert Sun)