R. Adams Cowley
First Lieutenant, United States Army
The "Father" Of Shock Trauma Medicine
a contemporary press report:
R. Adama Cowley died October 27, 1991, at the age of 74 at his home, of a heart ailment. His memory was praised by a bevy of Maryland political leaders, among them Governor William Donald Schaefer and former Governor Marvin Mandel, at services yesterday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Lutherville, Maryland. The services were videotaped so they may one day be seen and appreciated by Dr Cowley's infant son, R Adams Cowley 2nd, who was a month old yesterday. Dr Cowley's survivors also include his second wife, Roberta Schwartz Cowley of Baltimore; a daughter, Kay Cowley Pace of Santa Cruz, California.; 3 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren. Internment was at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
It had been while Dr Cowley was an Army surgeon just after World War II in Europe that he first began developing his ideas about quick treatment of the seriously injured people. Dr Cowley developed the idea that there is a "golden hour" just after a serious injury, during which prompt and coordinated medical treatment can save lives. He began with a two-bed research unit at the University of Maryland Hospital in 1961, and worked to build his dream, living to see the opening in 1989 of the eight-story Shock-Trauma Center in Baltimore, which was named for him.
Representative Helen D. Bentley, R-2nd, called Dr Cowley "one of the greatest figures in modern medicine . . . around the world." She also said he was a visionary "decades ahead of his time." Mandel, who has been credited with intervening to bring Shock-Trauma into existence, testified to Dr Cowley's unique qualities. "He was arrogant, determined, stubborn and difficult to get along with," but he had to be, Mandel said, to see his dream through. Schaefer said he was thinking as he peered from his car window on the way to the funeral that "there will be an accident somewhere today, and a life will be spared," because of the system that Dr Cowley set up. "He was a driven man, a perfectionist," but he put Maryland on the medical map, Schaefer said.
He was buried in Section 1 of Arlington National Cemetery.
Cowley's stone in Section 1 proclaims:
Next To Creating A Live The Finest Thing A Man Can Do Is Save One -- Abraham Lincoln.
A cardiothoric and trauma surgeon who, through his creation of shock trauma in Maryland, saved thousands of lives and changed the face of emergency medicine in the world.
Father of trauma medicine and founder of the nation's first shock trauma center, in Baltimore, MD.
Leader in the scientific study of shock and trauma *
Creator of the concept of the "Golden Hour," the 60 minutes following injury when definitive care is critical to a trauma patient's survival.
Leader in the use of civilian helicopters for medical evacuation.
Pioneer in hyperbaric medicine and open-heart surgery.
Inventor of electronic pacemaker prototype and a surgical clamp bearing his name.
A founding father of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.
Founder of National Study Center for Trauma and EMS Enacted by Congress in 1986.
Personal papers collected by the University
Updated: 18 November 2000 Updated: 19 May 2001 Updated: 22 February 2003 Updated: 20 July 2003 Updated: 9 January 2005 Updated: 11 September 2005
Photos By Michael Robert Patterson, May 2008
Photos By M. R. Patterson, 28 June 2003