J. Fletcher Lee
1981, Los Angeles
James Fletcher Lee, the second of three sons, was born in the historical southern city of Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 1934, where his parents, Jack and Mary Lee, raised him, along with his two brothers, in the Methodist religion. He and Mrs. Lee instilled in their children the importance of honesty and integrity and encouraged the desire to excel in whatever projects came one's way. Fletcher always enjoyed his schoolwork and in high school additionally enjoyed sports, primarily basketball and football, though the former was his choice. A football injury dampened this interest, but at the same time, opened another avenue, which for some time held such a strong attraction, that it seemed destined to be his life profession. No longer involved in sports, Fletcher obtained a job at the local airport, where his pay was awarded in flying time. At age 16, he soloed and obtained his student pilot's certificate, and at 17, his private pilot's certificate. At 18, he obtained his commercial pilot's certificate and flight instructor's rating, and seemed well on the road to his chosen profession. He elected to attend the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and was fortunate to be awarded there an instructor position with the University of Tennessee Flight Training Program. He found that this was too time-consuming and detracted from his college studies. After completing his first year in college, he obtained summer employment at the hospital in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This seems to have been the point in his life when his interest turned to medicine. The beautiful campus of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville became the incubator for his second and still-compelling interest in life, medicine. Graduating from the University of Tennessee cum laude, with an A.B. degree in zoology, and having served as president of Alpha Epsilon Delta, the honor premedical society at the University, Dr. Lee next attended Duke University School of Medicine. He regards those 4 years as some of the happiest in his life. He graduated from medical school in 1960 and, in that year, was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha, and was the recipient of the C.V. Mosby Scholarship Award. With his interest still primarily in general surgery, Dr. Lee entered a surgical internship at Duke. During that year and the year of general surgery assistant residency that followed, he came under the influence of Drs. Barnes Woodhall and Guy Odom and the neurosurgical program at Duke. While in the second of those 2 years, he visited other neurosurgical programs but elected to remain at Duke for his neurosurgical training, under these two outstanding physicians. He next spent a year on medical neurology, then proceeded to neurosurgery, completing that season of his professional growth as chief resident in neurosurgery, in 1966 to 1967. During most of that time, he served in the United States Army Reserve retiring as major. Upon completion of his neurosurgical residency, Dr. Lee moved to San Antonio and established a private practice of neurological surgery and in 1969 obtained certification by the American Board of Neurological Surgery. He has greatly enjoyed private practice, particularly relishing the direct patient contact and the opportunities for interaction with and care of his patients thus provided. He has had the good fortune to be in close proximity to the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and holds the title there of clinical professor of neurological surgery. It was during his early years in private practice that Dr. Lee saw the opportunity to become active in the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and in so doing, to meet and interact personally with other neurosurgeons throughout the country, allowing him the chance to consult with them regarding patient management problems. Beginning initially with committee tasks, he first became treasurer and then president. In his year as president of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, his primary goal was to oversee the development of an outstanding annual meeting which was to be held in Los Angeles, California. He was very ably assisted in this by Drs. Fletcher Eyster, annual meeting chairman; Chris Shields, scientific program chairman; and Martin Weiss, local arrangements chairman. Also, as in previous years, the Congress and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons were attempting to unite some of their activities and goals, in order to provide a more unified and effective management of them. Significant time was devoted to investigating and promoting these amalgamations. In addition to these honors, Dr. Lee held the position of alternate delegate to the American Medical Association from the Congress and served on the Board of the Alamo Heights United Methodist Church. Having held many staff positions at Southwest Texas Methodist Hospital, he assumed the post of chief of staff in 1984. Dr. Lee presently is on the Board of the Bexar County Medical Society, the Advisory Board of Hospice San Antonio, and the Board of Ecumenical Center for Religion and Health, where he is second vice president. During his training and in subsequent years, Dr. Lee has contributed articles to the medical literature and served as editor of a book entitled, Pain Management. Throughout his life, he has been blessed with a loving family and friends. This could never be more epitomized than by his lovely wife, Jane Volz Lee and their four beautiful daughters. In addition, there are now three lively grandchildren. In his spare time, he enjoys time with his family, as well as other activities including classical music, fly fishing, and duck decoy carving.
Dr. Lee reflects on his Presidential term at CNS