Obituary of Alexander McPhedran (1929 – 2021) – Augusta, ME
Alexander M. McPhedran
READFIELD, ME. Alexander M. McPhedran, MD, passed away on December 17, 2021.
He was born in Germantown in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on January 3, 1929, the third of four children to Janet Randolph Grace and Frederick Maurice McPhedran. His mother was from New York City, his father from Toronto, Canada.
Alex attended Germantown Friends School, Harvard College, and graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1954. He particularly enjoyed history in college and wrote an honors thesis on modern European history.
At the start of his final year of medicine in July 1953, he went to the college offices to seek his college diploma. He was fortunate enough to meet two former students he had known at university, one being Winifred Libbon. Knowing that Alex had done choral singing in college, they invited him to join the college summer choir rehearsal that evening. Winnie and Alex started a short courtship that night and got married on December 26, 1953 at a Friends’ Reunion in Longfellow Park, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
They moved in 1954 to Philadelphia for Alex’s initial training at the Pennsylvania Hospital. The following year, he enlisted in the United States Public Health Service, a uniformed service engaged in the service of health. He was posted to a clinic in Mobile, Alabama, where he and Winnie lived until 1957. He looked after the officers and crew of a cutter and two buoy supply vessels stationed at Mobile Harbor. . Winnie and Alex developed deep and lasting friendships in Mobile and their first child, Alexander Jr., was born there in 1955.
Alex returned to formal training in Boston as an internal medicine resident at Beth Israel Hospital from 1957 to 1959. He learned a lot from his colleagues and teachers, developed a deep interest in neurology, and then began a residency. in three-year neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital. ending in 1963. He was fascinated with using a patient’s history, physical examination, and knowledge of anatomy to diagnose and treat disease. In an interview in 1996, Alex said it was “wonderful to be able to combine kindness and consideration with precision in the diagnosis.” David (1957) and Thomas (1960) were born in Boston.
In 1963, Alex accepted a position as professor of neurology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and the family moved south. Alex has taught extensively, much of it at Grady, Atlanta’s public hospital. He has taught medical students and residents a wide range of education, from sophomores to physicians five years after medical school. Most of the time he left the house at 7 am and returned around 9 pm, but the work was rewarding. John (1964) was born in Atlanta.
Vocals continued to be a centerpiece for Alex and Winnie in local Atlanta choirs. During the annual summer trip to Maine, they sang tricks with the boys in the en-route Plymouth station wagon and tunes from The Fantasticks musical around the piano on Ridgewood Island in Little Sebago Lake. At Winnie’s insistence, they bought a boat to stay on Lake Lanier in Georgia to enjoy the water near their home.
In the late 1960s, still at Emory, Alex realized that few doctors practiced general medicine. He was appointed to the National Advisory Council for Regional Medical Programs during the Nixon administration and reviewed Maine’s grant proposal to address the shortage of physicians in rural areas of the state. He was interested in Maine’s plan to start a family medicine residency program followed by medical school. Alex was recruited to help start New England’s first family medicine training program and the family moved to Readfield, Maine in 1973.
Alex worked full time at the Maine-Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency in Augusta until 1993. His entire focus was on training primary care physicians to serve patients. He was known to teach respect for every patient, how listening to the patient was of the utmost importance and far more important than any test or procedure. He would ask each patient what is going on in their life in order to better understand all the factors contributing to their condition. Dozens of residency graduates have practiced medicine in rural Maine and have expressed gratitude for Alex’s training.
Alex and Winnie traveled abroad, mostly with his dear cousins Nick and Cindy Grace. A sabbatical in Scotland in 1986 was fantastic for Winnie and Alex. They loved their apartment, walking around Edinburgh in the neighboring Pentland Hills and exploring the local restaurants.
Alex read extensively in retirement. He was very concerned about humanity, justice, equality and the way people think about each other. He attributes this concern to Winnie and attributes all his social conscience to her. His memory of the details and the extent of his knowledge were difficult to comprehend and continued until his last breath. His knowledge of American history, European history, art history, religions, internal combustion engines, classical music, poetry, and etymology inspired fear.
He couldn’t stay away from teaching. Shortly after his official retirement in 1993, Alex returned to the residence part-time and worked until February 12, 2021, at the age of 92, his last day of formal education.
Alex gave and gave and gave. To family, friends, colleagues, patients and the community. Winnie and Alex’s Maine home has become an important gathering place for their immediate family and many friends and extended family.
Grieving are his sons Alex, Tom and John, their spouses Jayne, Karen and Patty, his grandchildren Andrew (and his wife Rachel), Rebecca (and her husband Dewey and their son Remy), Karen (and her partner Senthil). , Ryan (and his wife Molly), Jackson, Carter, Sydney (and his partner Jason) and Spencer; also, his brother Peter (and his wife Letty) and many others. He was predeceased by his son David, his wife Winnie and his siblings Margaret and Janet.
Alex’s family is grateful for the dedicated doctors and home nurse.
A celebration of Alex will take place outside on Saturday, July 16 at 1 p.m. at his home in Readfield.
Donations in his memory can be made to the David McPhedran Memorial Bursary or the Maranacook Community School Health Center. Either can be sent to RSU 38, 45 Millard Harrison Drive, Readfield, Maine 04355.
Arrangements are made with Roberts Funeral Home and Cremation Care, 62 Bowdoin Street, Wiinthrop, ME, where memories and condolences can be left at www.khrfuneralhomes.com.
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Posted by Roberts Funeral Home – Winthrop on Dec 23, 2021.