Member Spotlight

AACA Featured Member

Oliver Beahrs, MD, FACS

1914 - 2006

Dr. Oliver (Ollie) Beahrs is remembered here in our Member Spotlight as the first President of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists (1983 – 1985). Together with Ralph Ger, MD, Ollie Beahrs was instrumental in founding the AACA by his hard work and well-earned acclaim as a renowned surgeon whose leadership positions in the American College of Surgeons and other medical societies brought recognition to our Association in its earliest, most critical days.

Ollie was born September 19, 1914, in Eufaula, AL, the second of four children. His family moved to Pomona, CA, when he was five years old. His father died when he was ten and, as often happened in those days, Ollie had to go to work to help support the family. It was during these days as a youth that he learned to become a magician to earn extra money for the family and to help pay his way through college and, eventually, medical school! Despite hardships, Oliver Beahrs was able to graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1937. He received his MD degree from Northwestern University in 1941, and that summer began his surgical training at the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic. Ollie’s academic surgical training was interrupted by WW II, and he joined the US Navy Medical Corps in April 1942. He served with distinction until February 1946. After the war, Dr. Beahrs returned to the Mayo Clinic, finished his training in 1950, and became a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons in 1951. Ollie married Helen Taylor in 1947 after meeting her during one of his magic shows! He adored Helen until his death 58 years later.

Dr. Beahrs based his entire professional career at the Mayo Clinic, devoted to his patients, residents, students, and the Clinic, itself. By 1973, he had been promoted to Professor of Surgery, and had established his reputation in general surgery with special interests in head and neck and gastrointestinal surgery. Ollie took great pride in the Mayo Clinic's ethics, principles, culture, and efforts to place the patient at the center of all its activities.  Dr. Beahrs principled leadership was recognized in his appointments to the Mayo Clinic board of governors, the board of trustees of the Mayo Foundation, and as chairman of the Mayo Clinic Council.

Oliver Beahrs skills as a surgeon and leader were also recognized nationally and internationally. He was a respected, active member and officer of a number of medical and surgical societies, some of which were the American Cancer Society, the American Medical Association, the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract, the Society of Surgical Oncology, the Southern Surgical Association, and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. Dr. Beahrs was elected president of the American Surgical Association (1978–1979), the Society of Pelvic Surgeons, the Society of Head and Neck Surgeons, and the American College of Surgeons (1988–1989) and, of course, the American Association of Clinical Anatomists. Dr. Beahrs also established a worldwide reputation as an invited lecturer, as a member of international surgical societies, including being named an honorary member of the Royal College of Surgeons (Ireland). Through his international renown as a surgeon and author, Dr. Beahrs was able to help establish the AACA, put it on a firm foundation, and promote its growth. In 1988, Oliver Beahrs, MD, was given the Honored Member Award for his devotion and efforts to our Association and his memory is honored once again in this Member Spotlight.