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Founding Member and the President
International Society of Psychiatric Surgery
Professor William Beecher Scoville A free spirit, unfettered by rules and regulations, Dr. William Beecher Scoville, as an organizer, technician, mechanic and teacher, has done much to influence the development of Neurosurgery.He is an innovator, never willing to accept the status quo; and every surgical procedure offers a challenge to find a better method or to improve an accepted technique.Behind a façade of wild activity, driven by an insatiable ego, seeking better ways of doing things and espousing new ideas with their frequent and often angry confrontations, lies a nobility that holds no resentment and never bears a grudge but appreciates and commends the abilities and good works of others.Any adversary who opposes him gets his admiration with no bitterness.Although his emotions may at times be unchecked, he has disciplined himself to long hours of hard work with few vacations.Born in 1906 in Philadelphia, Bill comes from a long line of free thinkers known for their crusading abilities.His only connection with Neurosurgery was indirect and physical: His father, a Philadelphia attorney and naturalist by avocation, would get his exercise boxing with our neurosurgical middleweight champion, Chubby Grant.In his early years, Bill's serious ambition was to be an expert mechanic.He has had a lifelong interest in automobiles, and much of his extracurricular activity has been spent in studying the technical and mechanical developments in the automotive industry, a field in which he has become an authority over the years.However his father persuaded him to study a profession and forbade his going into mechanics except as an avocation.This he has done in part, only, using this inclination to improve neurosurgical instrumentation.His formal education followed an ivy path form Loomis to Yale to the University of Pennsylvania Medical School.His postgraduate training was not aimed at Neurosurgery initially; but, following a rotating internship in Hartford, he began in Psychiatry at New York Hospital.This was a headache to Billy Scoville, and at times he was a headache to his commanding officers.Indeed, because of his inability to conform to regulations at his post, he was exiled to the Paraplegic Service by his Chief , Liutenant Colonel Van Wagenen.Undaunted, he turned his energies and imagination to developing newer techniques to handle decubitus lesions, treat urinary tract infections and speed the rehabilitation of these unfortunates.Returning to Hartford after the War, Bill reactivated the Neurosurgical Service and, after several years of dogged persistence, was able to establish a separate Department of Neurosurgery, becoming its first Director.This resulted in the birth of the New England Neurosurgical Society in February of 1951, ( which took place in the same room where years before the Senior Society and a bit later the Cushing Society came into being . Scoville was appropriately elected to be its first president.Subsequently, in 1970, he was a founding member and the first president of the International Society of Psychiatric Surgery.He served as president of the American Academy of Neurological Surgery in 1971.He is a member of twelve American and fifteen foreign societies, being an honorary member of seven.Bill is widely known in our profession and a friend to many neurosurgeons throughout the world.He is often considered an innovator and idea man, but because of his direct youthful, yet at times politically inept, approach with his ego often stumbling over his nobility, proper recognition of his talents and accomplishments has been delayed.In his humorous self-appraisal, on receiving an honor at 60 he stated, "I am now considered by some to have finally reached puberty".Neurosurgeons are generally quite individualistic.Because of this, perhaps we have more than our share of "characters" - individuals who add color to life.Billy Scoville is one of these.William Beecher Scoville WILLIAM BEECHER SCOVILLE was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 13, 1906, the son of Samuel, Jr. and Katherine Gallaudet Trumbull.