Wallace B. Hamby
1969, Boston, MA
An early interest in vascular problems related to the central nervous system was evidenced by our honored guest's first medical paper, written in 1933 while he was still a resident at the Cleveland Clinic. He and his chief, Dr. W. James Gardner, published an account of their efforts to control pulsating exophthalmos due to carotid-cavernous fistulas. In this paper they reported the first successful intracranial ligation of the carotid artery.
Dr. Hamby had been attracted to the Cleveland Clinic because of its surgical renown. Although initially on the general surgical service, he soon felt an interest in the developing field of neurosurgery, and he became the Clinic's
first neurosurgical resident. His training period (1929-1934) included time spent at the University of Chicago studying neuropathology.
Upon completion of his preparation, Dr. Harnby returned to Buffalo, where he had served his internship at the City Hospital, and established the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Buffalo. After consulting at a number of hospitals, he confined most of his efforts to the Buffalo General and the Buffalo Children's Hospitals. He was professor of neurosurgery at the University of Buffalo for almost 20 years and, for a time, professor of neurology as well. He developed the department and training program into a center with an international reputation.
In 1960, our honored guest answered a call from the Cleveland Clinic to return as head of the Department of Neurological Surgery. Here he continued his interest in the teaching of neurosurgery, and, all told, more than 25 men have had part or all of their training under his tutelage.
The interest which led to his pioneering efforts in the surgical treatment of intracranial vascular lesions has continued to occupy his attention throughout his career. By 1969, he had authored 21 papers on various aspects of intracranial vascular problems. He also wrote two books on the subject, one of which, Intracranial Aneurysms, became a standard reference text for neurosurgeons and related specialists throughout the world.
Dr. Harnby is a master surgical technician who makes the difficult seem routine. The ease and skill with which he accomplishes surgery are perhaps a reflection in part of an artistic talent which is also manifest in his hobbies of painting, drawing, and carving. The development of new operative techniques and instruments has always been an important phase of his surgical achievement; in fact, 13 of his papers have been concerned with this area of endeavor.
Our honored guest has also made important contributions to the treatment of tic douloureux, intervertebral disc protrusions, spinal cord tumors, intractable pain, and involuntary movement disorders. He elucidated the clinical features of surgical air embolism and described a successful method of treatment.
Medical history, particularly the development of surgery, has been an avocation for him. He has followed the trail of Ambroise Par_, even to the extent of taking motor trips throughout France in pursuit of knowledge of the man and his times. Dr. Hamby is an authority on Paré, having written three books about him: The Case Reports and Autopsy Records of Ambroise Pard, Surgery and Ambroise Pard, and Arabroise Pard: Surgeon of the Renaissance.
Dr. Hamby's analytical mind has been an invaluable component of his ability to classify, organize, and record surgical and clinical experiences in a most useful and meaningful fashion. Never one to be idle, he repeatedly performed yeoman service in collating and cataloging clinical and operative data.
Born in Ennis, Texas, Dr. Hamby lived most of his early life in Georgia, which probably accounts for his warm, friendly manner and for the Southern drawl that has always remained with him. In 1924, he graduated from the University of Oklahoma Medical School. His alma mater bestowed upon him her Distinguished Service Award in 1967. A member of many professional and nonprofessional societies, he has served as president of the American Academy of Neurological Surgery and vice president of the Harvey Cushing Society.
Because of the Clinic's compulsory retirement ruling, our honored guest left Cleveland in November 1968, for Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he claims to have given up the practice of neurosurgery in favor of a life of ease. Characteristically, he has entered retirement with a zest for all that it involves. His golf handicap is falling gradually, and there are scarcely open spaces left on his calendar. As might be expected, Dr. Hamby has not completely stayed away from neurosurgery but manages to find time to counsel a young neurosurgeon, new to the community, on the management of intracranial aneurysms.