Remembrance of John L. Guerrant, MD, MS, Division Chief 1962-1976
Dr. John L. Guerrant, Chief of the Pulmonary and Allergy Division at the University of Virginia from 1962 until 1976, passed away in Charlottesville, Virginia on February 11th, 2012 leaving a legacy of service to the University of Virginia, Albemarle County, and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Born in Callaway, Virginia, Dr. Guerrant received his B.S. from Hampton-Sydney College in 1933 and his medical degree from the University of Virginia in 1937. After medical residency in Philadelphia, he was a research fellow and resident at the University of Virginia, receiving his M.S. in 1942. He then joined the U.S. Army Medical Corps as Captain and army physician and Director of the Clinical Laboratory with the University of Virginia’s 8th Evacuation Hospital from 1942 until 1946 in WWII in the North African and Italian theaters.
Dr. Guerrant joined the faculty at the University of Virginia in 1946, rising in rank to Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Pulmonary-Allergy Division in 1962. He was the founder of the Pulmonary Function Laboratory, and was instrumental in developing the Pulmonary and Allergy programs at the University of Virginia. Dr. Guerrant semi-retired as Professor Emeritus of Medicine in 1976, and then chaired the Medical Society of Virginia’s Professional Review Organization. In addition, he continued to be active in his beloved clinic and profoundly influence students, residents, fellows and faculty for years thereafter.
He was President of the Albemarle County Medical Society, Virginia Thoracic Society, Virginia Tuberculosis and Respiratory Disease Association, and the Southwest Allergy Association. He received the Raven Award for excellence in service and contribution to the University of Virginia in 2006. Moreover, he was honored by an Endowed Chair, the John L. Guerrant Professorship in Pulmonary Medicine, in 2006.
It was a privilege and honor to work along side Dr. Guerrant. I first met him during my visits to Charlottesville as a faculty candidate. In my interview with him during my visit, his kindness and humility were compelling. Somewhere in that interview, it occurred to me that if this was the caliber of faculty at the University of Virginia, it was the place that I wanted to be. As a young faculty member, Dr. Guerrant quickly proselytized all of us in the identification of eosinophils in a “wet prep” of cellophane-collected nasal secretions making readily available his microscope in the Allergy Laboratory for the task. His exuberance for pulmonary and allergic diseases and his love for his patients were contagious. Having a clinic on the same day as Dr. Guerrant, he was eager to help with a difficult case. In his winsome grin, he would muse about a similar difficult management problem, recounting his experiences in such situations over the years.
One of the hallmarks of a Division Chief is to leave the Division better than they found it, and unquestionably that can be said of Dr. Guerrant, developing the Pulmonary Allergy Division during his tenure as Chief that ultimately led to recruitment of outstanding successors. He was succeeded by Dr. Dudley F. Rochester as the Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, and Dr. Thomas Platts-Mills as Chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology.
With tremendous gratitude and love we remember this wonderful man, who profoundly influenced the lives of us all. To many in the Commonwealth, he was our physician, mentor, colleague and friend. We shall miss him, and we extend our sympathy to his family.
C. Edward Rose, Jr., M.D.