John H. Gladney, 1922-2011
The former SLU chairman of otolaryngology was a civil rights advocate in SLU’s School of Medicine and the community.
John H. Gladney, M.D., professor emeritus of otolaryngology at Saint Louis University, passed away on Nov. 26, 2011. He was 89.
|John H. Gladney, M.D.|
Dr. Gladney practiced medicine in St. Louis for 37 years as a private physician and faculty member at Saint Louis University.
He was a trailblazer, both in the field of otolaryngology and at SLU. Dr. Gladney was one of the first African American otolaryngologists in the U.S. post-WW II, the first African American to lead a department of otolaryngology in the country, and the first African American chair of a basic science clinical department at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.
According to Mark Varvares, M.D., the Donald and Marlene Jerome Endowed Chair in Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Dr. Gladney fought prejudice to obtain proper education and medical training in the segregated South, and to practice in the Midwest. He found support at Saint Louis University, where he became an advocate for under-represented minorities.
His legacy lives on through the Gladney Diversity Award, an annual award given to fourth-year medical students who have contributed to the promotion and advancement of diversity within the SLU School of Medicine.
"Dr. Gladney has been a mentor and role model for so many community physicians of many cultures, black and white. He will be greatly missed for his wonderful personality, academic achievements and influences on Saint Louis University and the medical community as a whole," said Michael Railey, M.D., associate dean multicultural affairs at Saint Louis University.
Dr. Gladney was best known for his special interest in hearing loss in children and adults. With funding from the St. Louis affiliate of the American Diabetes Association, Dr. Gladney studied the effect diabetes had on the inner ear. In 1998, he established the Comprehensive Sinus Clinic at SLU, which brings together physicians from otolaryngology, allergy and immunology to diagnose and treat sinusitis.
"Dr. Gladney was very clear about the role of research in clinical medicine and had a great intellectually inquisitive approach to everything he encountered clinically," Varvares said.
Dr. Gladney had a particular passion for the community's youngest citizens. He worked closely in the African American community to properly diagnose children with hearing disorders who had been misdiagnosed with behavioral disorders.
In a St. Louis American article dated Sept. 5, 1991, Dr. Gladney said, "If a child has trouble comprehending in school and their attention span is short, it doesn't mean that child is slow or restless. Hearing is the prerequisite for developing language communication and when your hearing is impaired your ability to understand and pay attention is thrown off balance."
In 1991, the St. Louis American honored Dr. Gladney with the first Stellar Achievement Award, which recognizes service to the community, particularly within the education field.
Dr. Gladney served as president of the Saint Louis University Hospital medical staff in 1970, as well as president of the St. Louis ENT Club (1978) and the Missouri ENT Association (1977-79).
He received a bachelor of arts from Talladega College in Alabama, and his medical degree from Meharry Medical College in Tennessee. He enrolled in the Army Specialized Training Program to pay for medical school training and later served in the Korean War, receiving a commission as captain in the U.S. Air Force.
Dr. Gladney retired from medical practice in 1993. Following retirement he served as a tutor and mentor at Laclede Elementary School and was a leader in his church.
"Dr. Gladney will be remembered as an incredibly kind, generous, gentle man, a great friend to all who knew him and a great patriarch to his family," Varvares said.
Visitation will be held from noon until 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3, and will be followed by a memorial service at Pilgrim Congregational Church, 826 Union Blvd.
Dr. Gladney is survived by his wife of 67 years, Clarice; two daughters, Connie Agard and Judy Gladney; sister, Kathryn Ellis; five grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents John and Emma, and son, John Jr.