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Earl Nation, 1910 - 2008

Urologist, medical historian created fellowship program

January 11, 2008|Mary Rourke | Times Staff Writer

Dr. Earl Nation, a urologist and medical historian who was also the great-great-nephew of temperance crusader Carry Nation, has died. He was 97.

Nation died Jan. 1 at his home in Sierra Madre after a brief illness, said his son Robert.

Nation was widely known for his research on Sir William Osler, a doctor, scholar and author who wrote extensively about the medical profession before he died in 1919. In 1971, Nation helped found the American Osler Society, which promotes humanism in medicine, and served as president in 1978.

"Earl felt it was important to have a sense of the history of the profession," said Dr. Charles S. Bryan, a longtime friend.

Early in his career, while a resident at Los Angeles County Hospital, Nation was accidentally sprayed in the face with fluid from a tubercular lung. He soon developed the disease and spent 15 months in a sanitarium. While recovering, he read an Osler biography that inspired his lifetime interest in Osler's work.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, January 24, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 39 words Type of Material: Correction
Nation obituary: The obituary of physician and medical historian Earl Nation in the Jan. 11 California section said that he graduated from the University of San Diego. Nation graduated from the school now known as San Diego State University.

In Pasadena, Nation began a practice in urology in 1941 and served as chief of staff at St. Luke Hospital in 1945. He was on staff at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena from the early 1970s until he retired in 1987. He wrote a history for the hospital's centennial in 1992.

Nation was also president of the American Urological Assn.'s Western section in 1969.

His scholarly bent often led him to the Huntington Library in San Marino, where he researched his articles and attended lectures. In 1997, he created a fellowship for scholars to study -- at the Huntington -- the history of medicine.

His interest in history found another outlet in his writings on Carry Nation. Her marriage to his great-great-uncle, David Nation, ended in divorce in 1901 after she launched her campaign against alcohol.

"I always use a disclaimer when talking about her," Nation said in 2002 in the Journal of Urology. "None of her genes flow in the veins of my progeny."

Born Jan. 16, 1910, in Zephyr, Texas, Earl Nation moved to San Diego with his parents in 1926. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of San Diego in 1931 and graduated from the medical school at Western Reserve University in Ohio in 1935.

He married Evelyn Poynter, a nurse, in 1936. She died in 1997.

The couple had two children, William and Robert. Nation is survived by his sons and one grandson.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Evelyn S. Nation Endowment, which Earl Nation created to support research on the history of medicine, at the Huntington Library, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108.


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