Death of Dr. Jonathan
A Preeminent Penn Paragon
Jonathan E. Rhoads, professor of surgery, provost emeritus and
an internationally known surgeon who pioneered the development
of intravenous nutrition, died January 3 at HUP at the age of
94. Dr. Rhoads had been a patient in the hospital pavilion that
bears his name. He was 94 and had worked at the hospital for almost
70 years having arrived at HUP for his internship in 1932. "In
the time since then, he became one of Philadelphia's most distinguished
citizens, renowned as a researcher, scholar, and leader in medicine,
academe, and civic affairs," said Dean Arthur H. Rubenstein.
He become chairman of the Department of Surgery from 1959 to 1972.
He remained active on the faculty of the School of Medicine up
to his final hospitalization for gastric cancer.
Evans Rhoads, M.D., was one of Philadelphia's most distinguished
citizens, renowned as a researcher, scholar, and medical leader.
Over the years, he served the University of Pennsylvania both
as provost and as chairman of the Department of Surgery. He was
respected and beloved by his students, colleagues and patients
and will be sorely missed by all of us at Penn," said President
Rhoads was one of the most prominent surgeons of his generation.
He edited a leading text book in the field that was first published
in 1957 and went through four editions. He pursued an active laboratory
research program through most of his career that focused particularly
on nutrition in surgical patients. His work culminated with the
development of an intravenous nutrient mixture that was demonstrated
for the first time to be capable of supporting normal growth in
young animals and in children with severe bowel disease who received
no food by mouth. This approach, known as total parenteral nutrition,
is now widely used to support patients who are unable to eat.
Dr. Rhoads and his younger colleague, Stanley Dudrick, received
the Goldberger Award from the American Medical Association for
Rhoads was recognized for his work in cancer surgery and was active
with the American Cancer Society, serving as its President in
1969-70 and for two decades as Editor of its medical journal,
Cancer. He was appointed by President Nixon to the National
Cancer Advisory Board which he chaired from 1972 to 1979. "He
had a knack for moving issues through boards and committees, which
together with his indefatigable work habit led him to leadership
positions in several of the major U.S. and international surgical
associations including the American College of Surgeons, the International
Federation of Surgical Colleges, and the International Surgical
Group," recalled his son, George. He served terms as President
of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and as President
of the American Philosophical Society, for which he co-chaired
the 250th Anniversary of its founding by Benjamin Franklin. He
was also a member of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy
Rhoads was a close colleague and friend of Dr. I. S. Ravdin who
preceded him as Chairman of Surgery at Penn and whom he credited
for helping launch his career. When Dr. Ravdin had appendicitis,
he selected Dr. Rhoads, then a junior member of the faculty, to
do the operation and thereafter referred patients to Dr. Rhoads
as his personal choice for a surgeon. These referrals assisted
Dr. Rhoads in building a large surgical practice that led to many
personal contacts enabling him to be very effective on behalf
of numerous voluntary agencies that he served, first in Philadelphia
and later at the national level. Dr. Larry Kaiser, the current
Chairman of Surgery, described Dr. Rhoads as "a true icon
of American surgery."
Rhoads was the son of a Quaker physician who practiced in the
Germantown section of Philadelphia. Dr. Rhoads attended Quaker
schools including Haverford College before earning his M.D. at
Johns Hopkins. He developed a life-long interest in education
and served for many years on the committees in charge of Germantown
Friends School, and Westtown School and on the Boards of Bryn
Mawr College and Haverford College. He served for nine years as
Chairman of the Board of Managers at Haverford. In 1956 Dr. Rhoads
was appointed as Provost, a position that he held for three years
while continuing to practice surgery. He also served on the Philadelphia
School Board under Mayor Tate. His work was recognized through
the conferral of ten honorary degrees, several from the institutions
he served as well as others including Yale, Duke, and Georgetown.
Rhoads was the recipient of the medallion of the Surgeon General
of the U.S., the American Medical Association's Sheen Award for
Scientific Accomplishment, the Prix de la Societe Internationale
de Chirurgie, the National Cancer Institute Medal, and the American
Cancer Society National Award. He received the 34th annual Cosmos
Club Award for "outstanding national leadership in surgical
a surprise 71st birthday celebration, his colleagues honored him
through an endowed professorship in his name in surgical sciences.
Rhoads was a paragon who strove to embody our three-part mission
of excellence in education, research, and patient care. Despite
his vast erudition and his achievements as a researcher and surgeon,
Dr. Rhoads was very accessible, and in his later years he could
often be seen at campus events or navigating with his walker along
the corridors of HUP," said Dean Rubenstein.
Rhoads married Teresa Folin in 1936, but was widowed in 1987.
He is survived by his wife, Katharine Evans Goddard Rhoads; his
six children from his first marriage, Margaret Kendon, Jonathan
Jr., George, Edward, Philip, and Charles; 12 grandchildren; and
will be held at Germantown Friends Meeting, 47 W. Coulter
Street, Philadelphia, on Saturday, January 12, at 2 p.m.
lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to any of the
Jonathan E. Rhoads Endowment for Friends Children
in Friends Schools
1515 Cherry Street
Department of Surgery at HUP
3400 Spruce Street
American Philosophical Society
104 S. 5th Street
Department of Surgery plans a celebration of the life of
Dr. Rhoads and will provide details when plans are complete.
Rhoads at the entrance of the $69 million pavilion named
for him in 1994.