Dr. Edward H. McGehee, 90, leader at Chestnut Hill and Thomas Jefferson

Dr. Edward H. McGehee
Dr. Edward H. McGehee
Posted: February 05, 2012

Dr. Edward H. McGehee, 90, who served as director of medicine at Chestnut Hill Hospital and director of family medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, died Sunday, Jan. 29, of heart failure at Bishop White Lodge of Cathedral Village, the retirement community in Roxborough.

Richard C. Wender, alumni professor and chair of the department of family and community medicine at Jefferson University, offered this appreciation:

"Ed McGehee was the embodiment of the outstanding primary-care clinician: warm, passionate, dedicated, and brilliant.

"He was the role model that inspired thousands of students and residents. His legacy will live on."

The Jefferson Medical College Class of 1976 presented a portrait of him to the university, which has hung at several sites there, a spokeswoman said.

And the McGehee Loan Fund was set up in 1996 by longtime patients to help pay for the educations of third- and fourth-year students of family or internal medicine.

A son-in-law, James Condon, said in a phone interview that "Dr. McGehee's caring and commonsense medical approach made him popular with patients. Although it became rare among his colleagues, Dr. McGehee continued to make house calls, sometimes by bicycle.

"He was a rare bird."

Born in Mobile, Ala., Dr. McGehee earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Pennsylvania in 1942 and graduated from what is now Jefferson Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in 1945.

A biography linked to his portrait in Adorn the Halls: History of the Art Collection at Thomas Jefferson University states that, after interning in Mobile and serving in the Navy, Dr. McGehee earned a fellowship in pathology at Jefferson and a research fellowship in hematology at Pennsylvania Hospital.

His studies even took him abroad, to Guy's Hospital in Southwark, London, on a Thomas McCrae exchange fellowship sponsored by Pennsylvania Hospital.

In 1953, he began a family practice in Chestnut Hill and worked both as an attending physician at Chestnut Hill Hospital from 1954 to 1973 and as a hematologist at Pennsylvania Hospital from 1956 to 1966.

He was director of the department of medicine at Chestnut Hill Hospital from 1966 to 1970.

The Jefferson biography states that in 1974 he became the first full-time faculty member of Jefferson's new department of family medicine and that in 1977 he earned a Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.

He was department chairman from 1990 to 1992.

In 1989, he was director of the Jefferson/Kendal Crosslands fellowship in geriatrics.

Dr. McGehee was president of the Philadelphia Society of Hematology in 1963 and 1977, laureate of the Pennsylvania chapter of the American College of Physicians in 1987, and president of the Jefferson medical alumni association in 1995.

He was a member of the vestry at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill, the St. Andrew's Society, and the Philadelphia Cricket Club.

Besides his son-in-law, Dr. McGehee is survived by a son, Edward H. Jr.; daughters Virginia Condon and Sarah Komisin; and five grandchildren. His wife, Carolyn, died in 2005. Their son James died in 1985.

A life celebration was set for 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, at St. Paul's Church, 22 E. Chestnut Hill Ave., followed by a reception at Cathedral Village's Presser Lounge.

Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.

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