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René after the War

What did René do after the War?

      Contrary to what he told his sister Marie-Louise, René did not become a surgeon or go into practice with his father. Instead, in 1947, after a stint doing research, he established a private practice in Internal Medicine and Cardiology in San Francisco. Throughout his career, he was on staff at Mt. Zion Hospital, where he trained countless residents in the art of medicine.

       It was at Mt. Zion in 1946 that he met a nurse named Eleanor Gamboni. Actually, it was his father, also on staff at Mt. Zion, who introduced the two. Elle and René were married in November 1946. Their son René III was born in 1949, and their daughter Linda in 1953.

       In addition to being beloved by his patients in San Francisco, René shared his knowledge of nutrition and its relation to heart disease with people around the country, as a volunteer with the American Heart Association (AHA). He wrote numerous articles and pamphlets on cardiovascular topics, including “A Guide to Sodium; Why You Should Eat Less,” which was distributed nationwide to more than 30,000 people through the AHA.

       Actively involved in the American Heart Association for 30 years, he served as San Francisco chapter president in 1962, California president from 1968-1970 and national vice president in 1978. The organization presented him with a number of awards, including the AHA Award of Merit, which they say “is reserved for those who have made significant contributions to the national Heart program and to cardiovascular medicine.”

       In 1980, René was featured in an article in the Wall Street Journal that began, “In this city of conviviality, René Bine, Jr. has evidence of his winning bedside manner. He carries keys to four women’s apartments. Dr. Bine, however, is no roué. He is a respectable physician and the four women average 87 years of age. His possession of their keys shows that even in this age of proliferating medical technology, the house call isn’t extinct.” Both Linda and René III have fond childhood memories of accompanying their Dad on weekend morning housecalls and rounds in the hospital.

       Also in 1980, René organized the 10th reunion of the 59th Evacuation Hospital Unit – with doctors, nurses, enlisted men and non-medical officers coming from all over the country — to reconnect and reminisce. Click here for the text of one of the thank you notes he received for his efforts.

       Throughout his life, René remained close to his French relatives, especially Yvette Baumann Bernard Farnoux. In 1982, he returned to France for the first time since the War, accompanied by his wife Elle. She recounted that when René visited the beach near St. Tropez where he had landed in August 1944, he stood for at least 30 minutes, lost in thought, staring out to sea. In Paris, he introduced Elle to some of his favorite places, and was able to reunite in-person with his dear cousins Yvette and Claudine.

       In 1985, even though René was ill with a rare autoimmune disease and in a wheelchair, he insisted on going to the reunion of the 59th Evac. Hospital to see his dear friends.

        He passed away in 1988 at the age of 73.

René with hospital colleagues.

Eleanor Gamboni (Elle)

René and Elle’s wedding, November 14, 1946. Left to right: Lillian Sinsheimer (René’s maternal grandmother, Gram), René Sr., Alma, Elle, René and Barbara (Bobsy, René’s youngest sister).

René and Elle on their honeymoon.

René, Linda, René III and Elle in 1960 at Lake Tahoe – René’s favorite vacation spot.

René in 1966.

René in Paris in 1982 with his French cousins, sisters Claudine Aaronson and Yvette Farnoux.

Elle and René in 1986.

Carleton Mathewson, bio

Carleton Mathewson, MD

Carleton Mathewson was born in Calistoga, California in 1902 and was raised in Fresno. He entered University of California at Berkeley at age 17, but after one year transferred to Stanford. where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1923 and his M.D. in 1927.

He then enrolled in the rotating internship at San Francisco General Hospital where he spent two years as Stanford surgical house officer. Dr. Mathewson was interested in orthopedics, so he applied and was accepted at the University of Iowa, where he spent six months training, followed by a position at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh for another six months. After that he earned a position at University Surgical Clinic in Jena, Germany, where he remained from 1930-1933. Upon his return to San Francisco, he was hired as Chief Assistant of the Stanford Surgical Service at San Francisco General Hospital and was appointed assistant professor, supervising medical students and residents.

When Stanford organized the 59th Evacuation Hospital, Dr. Mathewson joined as its Chief of Surgery. By the time he was discharged in 1946, he had been promoted to a full colonel and had been awarded the Legion of Merit, the European-African campaign medal, and five campaign stars.

On his return from the World War II in 1946, Dr. Mathewson was welcomed back to San Francisco General Hospital, where he served as chief of the Stanford Service and was appointed associate professor and later professor. He also was appointed Secretary of the American Board of Surgery, which had been formed in 1936, but hadn’t implemented their certification program. As a result, Dr. Mathewson played a major role in implementing the standards for training and qualifications for Board certification in Surgery.

When Stanford moved from San Francisco to Palo Alto in 1960, the University of California (U.C.) took professional responsibility for San Francisco General Hospital. Choosing to stay on at San Francisco General, Dr. Mathewson changed allegiances and served as U.C. Professor and Chief of the U.C. Gold Surgical Service until his obligatory retirement age at 65 in 1967.

Dr. Mathewson passed away in 1989.

Carleton Mathewson, MD

Frank Gerbode bio

Frank Gerbode, MD

Born in Placerville, CA in 1907, Frank Gerbode grew up in Sacramento. In 1932, he graduated from Stanford University and received his MD from Stanford Medical School in 1938. By 1942, he was a practicing general and thoracic surgeon on the Stanford Service at San Francisco General Hospital. As a result of his experience, when he joined the 59th Evacuation Hospital Unit he received a commission as a major in the U.S. Army Medical Corps.

During the war, Dr. Gerbode distinguished himself for his surgical service as well as his logistic leadership in the functioning of the 59th Evacuation Hospital. Before the war ended he had been promoted to lieutenant colonel.

After World War II, Dr. Gerbode returned to San Francisco, where he practiced surgery and was became avid researcher. In 1954, using a heart-lung machine he designed with Dr. John Osborn, Dr. Gerbode performed the first open heart surgical correction of an atrial septal defect West of the Mississippi. Another open heart surgical procedure he performed was televised live in 1958 from Stanford Hospital, which was in San Francisco at the time.

Committed to research, Dr. Gerbode was founder and became the first president of the Institutes of Medical Sciences (now the California Pacific Medical Research Institute) an independent group of specialized research institutes. He also became chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery at Pacific Presbyterian Medical Center, in San Francisco, a position he held until 1979.

In addition to surgery and research, Dr. Gerbode was committed to teaching the next generation of surgeons from around the world. Between the mid 1950s and the mid 1970s, nearly 200 fellows trained at Dr. Gerbode’s Cardiovascular Fellowship Program at Pacific Presbyterian, now California Pacific Medical Center.

Dr. Gerbode passed away on December 6, 1984.

Frank Gerbode, MD

Dr. Gerbode

Roy Cohn bio

Roy Cohn, MD

Roy Cohn was born in 1910 in Portland, Oregon and was raised in Southern California. He came to Stanford as an undergraduate in the mid-1920s, and received his bachelor’s degree in 1929. He graduated from Stanford Medical School (which was then located in San Francisco) in 1933.

After serving as chief resident in general surgery at Massachusetts General in Boston, Dr. Cohn returned to Stanford to join the medical faculty in 1938. He went to India as a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow in 1939-41, helping to establish a major hospital in Bombay.

Back at San Francisco in 1942, he joined the 59th Evacuation Hospital along with his colleagues at Stanford. He was awarded a Purple Heart for his valor during the war.

After World War II, he again returned to Stanford, where he published extensively and was highly regarded as a surgical innovator, teacher and mentor. In 1960, Dr. Cohn performed one of the first kidney transplants in the United States, and the first kidney transplant West of the Mississippi. He also developed the kidney transplant program at Stanford and in 1964 co-authored a landmark paper in the field of transplantation surgery. In addition to Dr. Cohn’s pioneering work with kidneys, he also developed an innovative method for closing holes in the heart.

As the science of transplantation advanced, Dr. Cohn and heart-transplant surgeon Dr. Norman Shumway recognized the need for the government and medical community to rethink the criteria for harvesting healthy organs. They urged that the definition of death be based on the cessation of brain activity rather than on the absence of a heartbeat — a change that helped make heart transplant and other organ transplant surgeries available to save the lives of thousands of people around the world each year.

In 1974, he was honored with an endowed professorship, the Walter Clifford Chidester and Elsa Rooney Chidester Professorship in Surgery. The Roy B. Cohn Bioskills Laboratory in Human Anatomy at Stanford University is named in his honor. He retired in 1989 but remained active for several years.

Dr. Cohn passed away in 1999.