Our department is 50 years old!

The Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine was established in 1966.  Hamilton S. Davis was our first chair.  Hamilton Davis, “Ham” to his friends and colleagues, was one of those rare individuals whose sense of humor was as great as his sense of duty. The diligence and tenacity with which he pursued his goals was always tempered with kindness and the ability to laugh, especially at himself. His professional interests exceeded his specialized field of anesthesiology, in which he excelled, to include all aspects of medicine, particularly the history of medicine. Personally, his abiding interest was his wife and family, to whom he was devoted. This devotion was particularly evident in his continued support and concern for his partially disabled younger brother. However, his compassion extended far outside the family and was exhibited by his generous, charitable support of numerous social causes and his impatience with discrimination in any form.


Following graduation from Colgate, he was accepted at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in 1942 and graduated in 1945. After internship at Grasslands Hospital in New York, the young Davis entered the military service and was assigned to duty at Camp Lee, Virginia. It was here that his interest in medicine was distracted by a pretty, pleasant, and efficient army nurse, Marjorie Jean Wright. This meeting, we are told, took place during a game of pool in the Officers' Club and explains the presence of a pool table in Dr. Davis' house for many years in Davis.


Following his discharge from the U.S. Army in 1946, Davis returned to Grasslands Hospital, Valhalla, New York for his anesthesia residency. Then, after a year of private practice in Grand Junction, Colorado, Ham was enticed back to Western Reserve University as the director of the Anesthesia Service at Lakeside Hospital, where he remained from 1953 to 1966. In September of that year, he became one of the founders of the new medical school at the University of California, Davis, when he was named professor and chairman of its Department of Anesthesiology. He retired as chairman of the department in 1982 but continued working as a professor of anesthesiology until his retirement and onset of his illness in 1985.