Colleagues celebrate Dr. Duke Samson's career with sendoff

By Lin Lofley

When Duke Samson, M.D., Professor of Neurological Surgery, had seen the last patient of his long career at UT Southwestern Medical Center, his wife of 25 years, Patricia Bergen, M.D., Professor of Surgery, took him to lunch at the A.W. Harris Faculty-Alumni Center.

Duke Samson, M.D.
Duke Samson, M.D.

“Even though we both work here, we don’t get to eat lunch together at the Faculty Club very often,” Dr. Bergen said. But lunch was just part of the plan.

As the couple entered the second-floor hallway of the Charles Cameron Sprague Clinical Science Building, they were engulfed by applause and confetti supplied by well over 100 faculty members, trainees, nurses, and administrators who have been Dr. Samson’s colleagues over the years.

Momentarily rendered speechless, Dr. Samson – who joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 1977, and holds the Kimberly-Clark Distinguished Chair in Mobility Research – smiled to the crowd and joked: “Didn’t you hear? I’m staying.” Then, turning on his self-deprecating wit, he pointed at the crowd and told a photographer: “Take a picture of them.”

“I think he was really surprised,” Dr. Bergen said later. “I don’t think he knew that anything was up. He’s an intensely loyal person, and I think that the loyalty was returned.”

Charles Whitten, M.D., Chair of Anesthesiology and Pain Management, was among those paying tribute to Dr. Samson.

“He has had a big impact on UT Southwestern in a number of ways,” said Dr. Whitten, who holds the Margaret Milam McDermott Distinguished Chair in Anesthesiology and Pain Management. “We might not know how important some of those ways are for years to come. This is a happy day; and a sad day as well.”