Tradition & Heritage Timeline Artifacts  
Death of the Mayo Brothers -- May 26 and July 28, 1939
Newspaper headline of William J. Mayo's passing
The Passing of the Mayo Founders

Mayo Clinic sadly experienced the loss of the Mayo founders, Drs. William J. and Charles H. Mayo, in 1939. Dr. Charlie passed away on May 26 in Chicago from lobar pneumonia. He was 73 years old. Thomas Spillane, a Rochester attorney, once said of Dr. Charlie: "We who know him ... know him for his charity and his love for little children, and his interest in all that concerns them; his goodness to all, young and old ... it is these things that get under the skin and make you feel life is worth living ... that no matter how great may his successes and his honors ... he will always be to us gentle, kindly, Dr. Charlie."

Two months later, on July 28, 1939, Dr. William J. Mayo died in his sleep. Dr. Will, who was 78 when he died, had been suffering from a gastrointestinal discomfort that did not subside. Exploratory surgery confirmed the critical nature of a stomach malignancy.

Dr. Richard M. Hewitt looked to the future in a memorial resolution adopted by the Mayo Surgical Society: "They (the Mayo brothers) worked for something even greater than themselves, which lies in the future and which must be effected by their successors ... They kept to themselves no knowledge or skill which they could impart to younger men ... They insisted that each surgeon have a full hand on his own service and that he shoulder the responsibility thereof. Guidance without pampering; help without meddling; these are the principles by which we were trained. Let us then train others thereby and as we close the ranks for the months and years ahead as our great mentors would have had us do, let it be said of us: 'They helped everyone his neighbor.'"

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Newspaper headline of Dr. Charles Mayo's death
Newspaper headline of Dr. Charles Mayo's death
Newspaper headline of Dr. William Mayo's death
Newspaper headline of Dr. William Mayo's death

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