There are many Texan scientists. Being a Texan scientist was one of many things that Cr. Mavis
Kelsey is. Mavis was a devoted family man, World War II veteran, collector of art and Americana, writer, editor, publisher,and rancher. He was a keen observer, a critical thinker, a visionary leader, and a lifelong scholar.
Born on October 7, 1912, in Deport, Texas, Mavis Kelsey developed his curiosity and creative mind there. Mavis was inspired to seek a career in medicine by his grandfather, Dr. Joseph
Benson Kelsey, who brought him along on house calls in a horse drawn buggy. By age 10, he knew he wanted a career in medicine. Mavis graduated from Texas A&M and the University of Texas Medical
School in Galveston. After an internship at Bellevue Hospital in New York, he arrived at the University of Texas Medical Branch.
Dr. Edward Randall, Dr. Marvin Graves and Dr. Seth Morris (all members of the original faculty); anatomist Dr. Harry O. Knight; pathologist Dr. Paul Brindley; surgeon Dr. Albert O. Singleton; and Dr. Titus Harris, and Dr. Truman Blocker were all doctors that Dr. Mavis Kelsey studied under.
They were an important part of UTMB’s rich history and to Kelsey’s life.
Dr. Kelsey graduated from medical school in 1936, a time when the death rate from infectious disease was 40 percent and a revolutionary treatment using the new sulfa drugs had been used at Johns
Hopkins to successfully treat infections. During his internship at Bellevue Hospital in New York, the young Dr. Kelsey participated in a study to determine the new drug’s effectiveness against a fatal streptococcus infection. The drug proved successful, and Dr. Kelsey’s name appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association as co-author on his first professional article.
Despite his success in New York, Dr. Mavis Kelsey longed to return to Texas. He accepted an offer to return to UTMB as an instructor in pathology, making 10 times his $15-a-week intern’s salary.
After his much needed return, Kelsey was on the move again. He had read extensively about the Mayo Clinic and the groundbreaking work being done there. Dr. Brindley’s brother, Dr. George
Brindley, offered the young physician a deal: If Dr. Kelsey would come to Temple, Texas, to work at the Scott and White Hospital for a year, Dr. Brindley would see to it that he could serve a residency at
Mayo. During his year in Temple, Dr. Kelsey met his future wife, Mary Randolph Wilson, and discovered a love for collecting Texas historical keepsake.
Mavis and Mary had an elegant wedding in Beaumont. He then took his bride off to Rochester,
Minnesota, and took a fellowship at the Mayo Clinic, for what was planned to be a three-year fellowship in internal medicine. As happened with so many young men of the day, World War II interrupted his plans. During World War II, he was called to serve out his ROTC commitment and joined the Air Force in 1941. After completing training at the School of Aviation Medicine in San
Antonio, he was stationed at the Aleutian Islands, where he served as flight surgeon for a fighter command. and later, while at the Aeromedical Research Laboratory at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, as
Editor-in-Chief of the Air Surgeon's Bulletin, the medical journal of the U.S. Air Force. He attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was awarded the Legion of Merit. He also earned a master's degree in medicine from the University of Minnesota.
After the war he finished his fellowship and returned to the Mayo Clinic and began studying the thyroid and radioactive iodine, work that produced numerous journal articles. His work at the Mayo
Clinic revealed that that patients would be better served by one group of physicians working together, facilitating referrals, using the same medical record to foster continuity of care, and adding specialties as medicine evolved. He began discussing the idea with his Rochester