Jack Arthur Pritchard, M.D., Professor Emeritus: 1990 – 2003

Dr. Jack Pritchard

Jack Pritchard, M.D., was a giant among 20th century obstetrician gynecologists.

Disenchanted with the way medicine was practiced in the mid-1940s, he contemplated a career in pharmacology. But his serendipitous discovery of hemolysis in the blood of a pregnant woman with preeclampsia changed his life and ultimately those of pregnant women everywhere.

A graduate of Case Western Reserve Medical School (1946), he pursued a 15-month internship in obstetrics and gynecology (1946–1947), followed by a fellowship in pharmacology (1947–1948). Resuming his medical education following military service, he completed an obstetrics and gynecology residency at University Hospitals of Cleveland in 1954.

After turning down a position at Yale, Dr. Pritchard accepted the chairmanship of obstetrics and gynecology at Southwestern Medical College in September 1955.

Dr. Pritchard breathed life into the Department and invigorated faculty and students with the concept of evidence-based medicine. His insistence on dignity and excellence in clinical care, his eye for detail, and his honest, straightforward approach earned him the respect of those he mentored and inspired generations of physicians.

He introduced magnesium sulfate to the treatment of the convulsions associated with eclampsia (toxemia of pregnancy) and pioneered studies in the hematological changes during pregnancy. He was the architect of the Family Planning Program in Dallas.

After stepping down as chair in 1970, Dr. Pritchard became the senior author/editor of Williams Obstetrics — moving this seminal textbook to Dallas from Johns Hopkins University, where it was first published by Dr. J. Whitridge Williams in 1903 and where 10 of the previous 13 editions had been edited.

Dr. Pritchard retired as Chief of Obstetrics at Parkland in 1981. In 1985, he transferred the editorship of Williams Obstetrics to F. Gary Cunningham, M.D. He continued to cover the Parkland obstetrical service and teach for five more years, dividing his time between Apache Junction, Arizona, and Dallas.

Permanently retiring in 1990, Dr. Pritchard became the first Professor Emeritus in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and also Ashbel Smith Professor Emeritus of the University of Texas System. He died at his home in Las Cruces, New Mexico, in 2003.