Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Dr. Milam E. Leavens
Milam E. Leavens, M.D. passed away May 3, 2011. Born in Houston, Texas June 28, 1926, Milam was a proud descendant of Texas hero Ben Milam. Making his own mark on Texas history, Dr. Leavens was one of the youngest Baylor College of Medicine graduates. He served our country in the U.S. Army as a MASH unit Neurosurgeon during the Korean War. In 1979 he became the first Chief of Neurosurgery at MD Anderson Cancer Center and held that position until 1990.
Specializing in brain tumors, he was the first Texas surgeon to perform transsphenoidal surgery, removing a pituitary tumor through the sinus cavity. He also established the training program for medical students at MD Anderson for Neurosurgery residents. His multiple medical accomplishments earned him the Ashbel Smith Professorship in 1992. Even after his retirement in 1995 he continued to participate in the educational activities of the department. For the past 17 years he was honored by the Houston Neurological Society with the Milam E. Leavens, MD Annual Lecture Series.
Dr. Leavens met and married the love of his life, the late Jeanette Pearson Leavens in 1949.
Married 55 years, they had 3 children; son James E. Leavens, J.D.; son Tom Leavens, M.D. and wife Adelaide; daughter Julie J. Size and husband Donald; Granddaughters Emily and Joy; and 2 great grandchildren.
Milam's life was much more than his medical career. He was an accomplished classical pianist and organist, serving for many years as the Assistant Organist at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. He especially enjoyed playing the works of J.S. Bach and Beethoven. He once stated that to know their works was to know genius. An advanced amateur astronomer; he had begun meticulously mapping the heavens by hand as a young boy. This love of nature and God's wonders led him to further study the heavens and chart the Messier Objects with his own sophisticated telescopes throughout his life. An avid athlete, naturalist, and mountaineer, he summited several dozen fourteen thousand foot peaks in Colorado, hiked the Grand Canyon twice, and hiked extensively throughout the Chisos Mountains and the Chihuahua Desert in Big Bend National Park. All the while he studied the flora, fauna, bird life, and geology with professorial intensity combined with a childlike sense of wonder. He loved his family and together we learned to play music, scuba dive, snow ski, mountain climb and travel the world. He will be missed.
Dad putting his expert surgical skills to work!