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Dr. Milton Thomas Edgerton

May 25, 2018
Lake Placid News

On Thursday May 17, 2018, Dr. Milton Thomas Edgerton, pioneering plastic surgeon, loving husband, and father of four died peacefully in Charlottesville, Virginia after a three-year struggle with multiple myeloma and malignant melanoma. He was 96 years old.

Milt was born July 14, 1921 in Atlanta, Georgia, to Elizabeth Roddick and Dr. Milton Thomas Edgerton Sr. After graduating from Emory University in 1941 (B.A. Chemistry), he obtained an M.D. degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1944. Following a surgical internship at Barnes Hospital, Milt joined the army and served at Valley Forge General Hospital for three years. His experience treating war wounds during World War II was formative for him, as this small band of young plastic surgeons performed over 15,000 operations on these horribly injured GIs, without a fatality! Many new reconstructive procedures were invented and perfected.

Milt returned to Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1945-1951 to complete his surgical training. He joined the faculty in 1951, directing the Plastic Surgery division.

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He then became Hopkins' youngest tenured professor in 1962. In 1970 he was recruited to the University of Virginia to found the Department of Plastic Surgery, where he continued to practice until his retirement in 1994.

On June 30, 1945, he married Patricia Jane Jones. They met at Johns Hopkins Hospital where he was studying medicine and she was working in a biochemistry lab. They were together for 64 exciting and devoted years until her death in 2010. They traveled extensively but found time to relax and recharge with family in Lake Placid each summer.

Milt was a dedicated teacher of plastic surgery and remained a full-time academic surgeon for his entire career. He trained 76 plastic surgeons who expanded his legacy throughout the country and many became academic chairmen in other medical schools.

He was comfortable operating on any area of the body and trained his apprentices to master: head and neck cancer reconstruction, facial palsy reconstruction, burn reconstruction, hand surgery, microsurgery, breast reconstruction, transgender surgery, cleft lip and palate surgery, ear reconstruction, craniofacial surgery, and cosmetic surgery. He also studied the psychiatric benefits of plastic surgery. Milt was a master of all types of plastic surgery and a notable pioneer in several. He advanced the field both through research and the design of new surgical procedures. He was known for his compassion for his patients and was beloved by them.

During his career he authored over 500 peer-reviewed medical papers and four medical textbooks. He served as President of the prestigious American Association of Plastic Surgeons and received numerous awards for clinical excellence and teaching.

Outside of the operating room, Milt's life-long passion was golf, and he sported a single-digit handicap for many years. He was an excellent skier and tennis player and a crackerjack duplicate bridge partner up until the very end. He always had a welcoming smile for a visitor, and over dinner he loved to discuss, at length, science, politics and the human condition.

His volunteer activities included service at Vellore CMC Leprosy Hospital in India in 1962, consultant at Walter Reed Hospital, Miller Center Governing Council, and the Jefferson Area Board of Aging.

A loyal, family man, he is survived by his four children: Dr. Bradford Wheatly Edgerton (Louise Dungan), William Alton Edgerton (Liza Todd), Sandy Edgerton Bissell (Chip) and Diane Edgerton Miller (Ethan); 11 grandchildren: Todd Edgerton (Tracy), Sage Bissell Ruttan (Stu), Leigh Edgerton, Ford Edgerton (Katie), Zachary Miller (Sara), Catherine Kelleher, Robert Kelleher, Lauren Edgerton, Madeline Miller (Evan), Whit Bissell (Lindsey), Stephanie Miller; nine great grandchildren: Potter Edgerton, Emory Miller, Sanders Miller, Eloise Ruttan, Truitt Miller, Madison Bissell, Annie Bissell, Kinley Bissell, Georgia Ruttan; and Helen Maupin, his devoted friend, as well as his beloved pup, "Wizard."

A Celebration of Life will be held at 1 p.m. July 14, 2018 at Farmington Country Club, 1625 Country Club Drive, Charlottesville, VA 22901. In lieu of flowers, please send any donations in Milt's honor to the Alzheimer's Association, 485 Hillsdale Drive, Charlottesville, VA 22901.

Condolences may be sent to the family at www.hillandwood.com.

 
 

 

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