Three Generations and Counting
In 1939, “Gone With The Wind” was number one at the box office, a nice house would set you back about $6,400, and RCA/NBC introduced the very first regularly scheduled U.S. television broadcasts. And in 1939, Robert “Bob” Ellison entered the Medical College of Georgia, never suspecting he would launch a storied MCG family legacy that flourishes unbroken to this day. Four years later, the young surgery resident demonstrated a spinal puncture for incoming first-year students, a class that included 19-year-old freshman Lois Taylor. And a few months after that, when a friend of Lois’ invited her to join him, his date, and Bob on a double date for dinner, she said “yes.” It was the beginning of a love that lasted a lifetime; Bob and Lois married while she was still in med school in 1945.
The couple went on to start their family—with gusto. Five sons arrived between 1953 and 1959: Robert, Gregory, Mark, James, and John. MCG remained an integral part of their lives. Bob became a faculty member in 1947 and Lois in 1951. And their contributions to their alma mater were only beginning. Early on, the Ellisons established a dedicated cardiopulmonary laboratory at MCG—the first in the state—where clinicians performed the institution’s first cardiac catheterizations, pulmonary functions, and blood gas tests.
Lois moved into administration, ultimately becoming university provost. She later moved to hospital administration and took “early retirement” at age 76. For the past 13 years, she has served in a volunteer capacity as medical historian in residence.
“I consider it an opportunity to continue to be a part of a wonderful program,” Dr. Ellison said. “And I know my husband felt the same way. He had many opportunities for other positions because he was so well-known, but he stayed at the Medical College of Georgia.”
Passing the Torch
Bob became head of cardiothoracic surgery, a position he held for 32 years. He repeatedly broke new ground in cardiac care, including performing the first open heart surgery in Georgia in 1956, and his research contributions in the field were legion. After a long and illustrious career, and a too-brief 61 years with the love of his life, the beloved family patriarch passed away in 2006.
Dr. Robert “Bob” Ellison Jr., Dr. Gregory Ellison, and Dr. Mark Ellison graduated from MCG in three consecutive years: 1980, 1981, and 1982.
The Next Generation
These days the third generation of Ellisons—Bob and Lois have nine grandchildren—are taking their turn. Gregory’s son, Gregory “Taylor” Ellison Jr., graduated from MCG in 2012 and is completing his residency in New Orleans. His sister, Leigh, will graduate from GRU’s Physician’s Assistant program this year. Another sister, Sarah, is an undergraduate at the University of Georgia, considering a career in the health sciences.
Legacy of Giving Funds supported by the family:
Robert G. Ellison, M.D. Distinguished Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery
Lois Taylor Ellison, M.D. Scholarship Endowment
Old Medical College Renovation Fund
Class of 1982 Scholarship Fund
Children’s Hospital of Georgia
Edgar Pund Distinguished Chair
Sydenstricker Lecture Fund
Lois Taylor Ellison Lecture Fund
Click here for more on the Ellison Family Legacy
By: Stacy Hudson
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