Dr. Malcolm Perry, alumnus, professor emeritus of surgery

Dr. Malcolm O. Perry, professor emeritus of surgery and an eminent vascular surgeon who treated President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, died Dec. 5. Dr. Perry, 80, passed away in Tyler after a long and courageous battle with lung cancer.

Dr. Perry, then 34, was the first surgeon to attend the mortally wounded president at Parkland Memorial Hospital. He was one of four UT Southwestern surgeons attending that day, including the late Dr. Charles Baxter, the late Dr. C. James Carrico and Dr. Robert McClelland.

Dr. Perry was also part of the team that operated later that weekend on Lee Harvey Oswald, President Kennedy’s accused assassin, after he was shot by Jack Ruby.

Dr. Malcolm O. Perry

Dr. Perry testified before the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination, and recounted the medical efforts for an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1992. Otherwise, he rarely spoke about his role in the historic events.

“He didn’t like to talk about it,” said Dr. McClelland, professor emeritus of GI/endocrine surgery, who had known Dr. Perry since 1958, when they were residents together. “So we kind of agreed not to talk about it. Whenever the subject would come up, he would give a look and that was that.”

Beyond his well-documented historical contribution, Dr. Perry was highly respected and liked by peers, colleagues and those fortunate enough to work around him, Dr. McClelland recalled.

“He was a wonderful guy, extremely bright and very talkative. He knew something about everything and was great to be around and talk with,” said Dr. McClelland, who shared office space with Dr. Perry for several years. “He was very well-informed, and he always knew a way to help out in a clinical situation.”

Dr. Perry was born Sept. 3, 1929, in Allen and reared by his grandfather and namesake, Dr. Malcolm O. Perry, who was a well-known general practitioner and an inspiration to his grandson.

In 2004 the younger Dr. Perry gave $50,000 in honor of his grandfather to Southwestern Medical Foundation to establish the Malcolm O. Perry, M.D., Professorship in Surgery. The endowed position currently is held by Dr. Fiemu Nwariaku, associate professor of GI/ endocrine surgery.

Dr. Perry remained active, attending conferences until his recent illness.

“The Department of Surgery was blessed by his return to our faculty and the kind gift he gave for the professorship in his grandfather’s honor. We will miss him,” said Dr. Robert Rege, chairman of surgery and holder of the Hall and Mary Lucille Shannon Distinguished Chair in Surgery.

Dr. Perry received his medical degree from UT Southwestern in 1955. He completed an internship at Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco, a surgical residency at Parkland and a fellowship in vascular surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine.

He was a faculty member at UT Southwestern from 1962 to 1974, serving as professor and chief of vascular surgical services. He went on to join the faculty of the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle and later served as professor and chief of vascular surgery at Cornell University Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College and Graduate School of Medical Sciences (1978-1988), Vanderbilt University Medical Center (1988-1992), and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (1992-1996). He returned to UT Southwestern in 1996 as professor of surgery and chief of surgery at St. Paul before retiring as professor emeritus of vascular surgery in 2000.

He served on several editorial boards, including the Journal of Vascular Surgery and Cardiovascular Surgery.

Contributions in Dr. Perry’s memory may be sent to Hospice of Tyler, 4111 University Blvd., Tyler, TX 75701; or to the Malcolm O. Perry, M.D., Professorship in Surgery, Office of Development, UT Southwestern Medical Center, P.O. Box 910888, Dallas, TX 75391-0888.

— Russell Rian