The University Record, February 5, 2001


William Warner Coon

William Warner Coon, professor emeritus of surgery, died Oct. 5, 2000, of leukemia at University Hospital. He was 75.

Coon spent his childhood in Saginaw and completed his undergraduate education at Johns Hopkins University. Following graduation from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1949, he joined the U-M Department of Surgery as an intern. His residency was interrupted while he served as chief of surgery, U.S. Army Hospital, Augsburg, Germany, in 1953–55. He completed his postgraduate training in surgery at the U-M in 1956 and joined the faculty at that time as an instructor. He was appointed professor of surgery in 1967 and became professor emeritus in 1996.

His early clinical practice and research on venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism and anticoagulation resulted in more than 100 publications on those topics. Coon’s work on pulmonary embolism and venous thrombosis in the Tecumseh Community Study in the early 1970s is still cited by researchers in the field. He also was very interested in the metabolic consequences of surgery. By 1980, he had begun to focus on the spleen, particularly the role of splenectomy in the staging and treatment of lymphoma and leukemia. This special interest resulted in his final major publication, a monograph titled Surgical Aspects of Splenic Disease and Lymphoma, in 1998.

In the last 20 years, he had been involved primarily in caring for patients with cancer, especially those with breast cancer and melanoma. He continued to see patients until last August.

In 1962, Coon was named assistant director of the newly opened National Institutes of Health-funded Clinical Research Unit, holding that post until 1997. He played a major role in the development of the Medical School’s Institutional Review Board, serving as its chair for 25 years. His commitment to education was recognized by the establishment of an annual award, the William W. Coon Award for Excellence in Resident Teaching in the Department of Surgery. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the Medical Center Alumni Society in 1997.

Coon was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Society of Sigma Xi, Society of University Surgeons, Western Surgical Association, Central Surgical Association, Association for Academic Surgery, Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine, American Surgical Association and Societe Internationale de Chirurgie. He was president of the Frederick A. Coller Surgical Society in 1995–96.

While he was a man of science, he also was a man of the arts, treasuring the time to listen to music and read the classics. He loved a good English mystery. Coon spent many hours baking bread and other treats. Every Christmas, he would make hundreds of tiny fruitcakes for the nurses and staff of the operating rooms, inpatient units and the clinic where he cared for patients. Since his retirement, he was learning to paint and work with clay.

Coon was preceded in death by his first wife, Elisabeth Charlotte Bock, in 1984. He is survived by Jane Wilson Coon, whom he married in 1985, and his two children, Kathryn Glynis Coon of Ann Arbor and Christopher Warner Coon and his wife, Christina Snyder, of Manchester. Jane Wilson Coon is an assistant professor of nursing.

Memorial contributions may be made to the William W. Coon M.D. Surgical Oncology Patient Care Fund, Medical Center Alumni and Development Office, 301 E. Liberty St., Suite 300, Ann Arbor, MI 48104.

Submitted by the family