William Droegemueller, MD, a giant in the field of obstetrics and gynecology and former chair of UNC OBGYN, passed away April 15.
William Droegemueller, MD, former chair of the UNC Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology in the 1980s and 1990s, passed away at his home in Colorado April 15. Under his leadership, the department grew substantially, especially in expanding subspecialty care, research, and training. For past 35 years, the UNC ObGyn Department’s Annual Residents’ Research Day has been named in his honor.
Dr. Droegemueller was a giant in the field of obstetrics and gynecology, serving as the director of evaluation for ABOG for more two decades. He was the leader of many national organizations, including serving as president of the American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society and editor or the seminal text, “Comprehensive Gynecology,” through several editions.
He was a great mentor and friend to many learners and faculty at the UNC School of Medicine for many years, as well as a dedicated clinician and family man.
Here is the full obituary for Dr. Droegemueller:
Bill “Droeges” Droegemueller passed away peacefully at his home in Colorado on April 15, 2021. He was born in 1934 in Evanston, Illinois to William H. Droegemueller M.D. and Florence Scribner. He has two younger brothers, David Droegemueller and Glen Droegemueller. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Marlene, two daughters Susan Riebe (Bruce), and Karen Williams (Rob), and three grandchildren Kelsey, Ryan, and Kyle.
He graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1956 where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. He attended medical school at the University of Colorado obtaining his degree in 1960. He was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha in 1959. He was awarded the Gold Headed Cane for being first in academic standing in his medical school class. Throughout his career in academic medicine he received numerous teaching awards. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists named Dr. Droegemueller as the recipient of the 1999 Distinguished Service Award. In 2000, Dr. Droegemueller was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science from the University of Colorado. In 2009, Dr. Droegemueller was awarded the title of Distinguished Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Colorado Medical School. Nationally, Dr. Droegemueller served as Director of Evaluation for the American Board of OBGYN from 1988-2006. He was proud to be trained and work under his beloved chairman and mentor, the late Dr. E. Stewart Taylor.
Droeges was an accomplished writer. He co-wrote the textbook “Comprehensive Gynecology” that is currently in its seventh edition. He was editor of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology with help from his editorial professional, AJ Mayhew. They authored the invaluable Writers Guide for the journal that remains in use for new authors today. His first article was his most important and was completed when he was a medical student. He partnered with Dr. C. Henry Kempe in pediatrics to describe the ‘battered child syndrome’ and was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association as well as 51 Landmark Articles in Medicine. It was one of the first biomedical descriptions of the trauma of child abuse and it was the launching point for the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect at the University of Colorado School of Medicine that now focuses on child abuse research and training.
He spent 14 years as chair of OBGYN at UNC-Chapel Hill. Under his leadership, over 150 residents and fellows were trained and went onto excellence in clinical practice and leadership positions in academic medicine. Highlights of his chairmanship included opening the new UNC Women’s and Children’s Hospital, establishment of the UNC Horizons perinatal substance abuse program, creation of urogynecology as a discipline and Board approved subspecialty, implementing conscience protection rights for students and trainees at UNC and formation of an OBGYN residency in the mountains of western North Carolina.
Each of these entities is serving women and children today. He was an excellent clinician and gynecologic surgeon and an astute business leader. As chair emeritus, his advice was frequently sought and when implemented, consistently led to successful outcomes, such as UNC’s 20 years of participation in the NICHD Maternal Fetal Medicine Network and the establishment of an OBGYN training program in Malawi.
In addition to his professional accomplishments, he was always available and supportive when his mentees’ efforts fell short, or they experienced some sort of setback or tragedy in their personal lives. He attributed much of his successes at UNC to his administrative team. His home was always open for a visit or social event.
In lieu of flowers donations can be sent to UNC Health Foundation and mail to: 123 W. Franklin Street Suite 510 Chapel Hill, NC 27516.