Drs. McLendon, Thomas honored with Order of the Long Leaf Pine

On Friday, Sept. 21, Drs. William McLendon and Colin Thomas were presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine for work to make UNC Health Care one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers and for their efforts to preserve its history for future generations.

Drs. McLendon, Thomas honored with Order of the Long Leaf Pine click to enlarge William Roper, William McLendon, Colin Thomas, Tony Lindsey

Both men were honored with the prestigious award as part of the celebration of UNC Health Care's 60th anniversary.

"We owe a great debt to Drs. McLendon and Thomas and all those who work to preserve our history," said William Roper, CEO, UNC Health Care, when he presented the award. "They more than anyone understand the importance of recognizing the enormous contributions made by those who have come before us."

The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is among the most prestigious awards granted by the Governor of North Carolina. It is presented to individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state.

Dr. McLendon is a member of the third graduating class of the four-year UNC School of Medicine in 1956. As professor emeritus of the School of Medicine, he became chair of both the Department of Hospital Laboratories and the Division of Laboratory Medicine in the School of Medicine in 1973.

Under his leadership, the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine was formed in 1995, and UNC was recognized for providing excellent, innovative service in these areas. In appreciation of the critical role he played in the development and elevated status of these departments worldwide, the clinical laboratories at UNC Hospitals were named the William W. McLendon Clinical Laboratories. Dr. McLendon retired in 1995, but he continues to contribute to UNC Hospitals as a historian and co-author of "Bettering the Health of the People: W. Reece Berryhill, the UNC School of Medicine, and the North Carolina Good Health Movement."

Dr. Thomas has been on faculty in the Department of Surgery since UNC Hospitals’ inception. Internationally, he is best known as a surgical innovator and respected endocrine surgeon, but at UNC Hospitals, Dr. Thomas is well known for providing leadership and stewardship during his 18-year tenure as chief of the department.

His numerous accolades include Norma Berryhill Distinguished Lecturer in 1989, North Carolina’s Medical Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award recipient in 1984 and recipient of the H. Fleming Fuller Award from UNC Hospitals. He is also co-author, along with Mary Jane Kagarise, of the 1997 book, Legends and Legacies: A Look Inside: Four Decades of Surgery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1952-1993.

Dr. Thomas’ contributions to UNC and the field of surgery persist, as he continues to work in the department part time and actively provides guidance and consultation to junior surgeons.

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