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Dr Albert Colby Getchell
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Birth: Jul. 9, 1857
Kennebec County
Maine, USA
Death: Oct. 1, 1950
Mercer County
New Jersey, USA

Dr. Albert Colby Getchell was the son of Walter B. Getchell (1809-1907) and his wife Marie Antoinette Colby (1828-1905) of Waterville, ME. He studied briefly at Harvard Medical School before completing his medical studies at the Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, graduating in 1885. The next year, on April 22, 1886, Dr. Getchell married artist Edith Loring Peirce (1855-1940). The couple had two daughters: Ruth Peirce Getchell (1888-1906) and Margaret Peirce Getchell (1891-1970). Dr. Getchell and his family settled in Worcester, MA, where he established a distinguished practice, specializing in ear, throat and lung ailments. His pioneering work in the treatment of tuberculosis won him a national reputation. Getchell was extremely active in local, state and national medical organizations. A cultivated man of wide interests, he published papers on such unexpected topics as "The Medical Knowledge of Shakespeare" (Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, 1907) and "The State of Maine as a Summer Health Resort" (Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association,1910).

Getchell was introduced to Philadelphia artist Thomas Eakins by his wife, a former student of Eakins. The often cantankerous Eakins felt more at ease around physicians and scientists than around his fellow artists. He and Getchell became friends and at his invitation Getchell sat (long and repeatedly) for a portrait. That portrait is now in the collection of the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh.

[Biographical sketch by John W. Coffey. The author welcomes additional biographical information on Dr. Getchell.]



Dr. Getchell, Tuberculosis Pioneer, Dies

Dr. Albert Colby Getchell, 93, a leading Worcester doctor for 63 years and a Worcester County pioneer in the fight against tuberculosis, died last night at Princeton Manor, Princeton. Until recently, he lived for many years at 77 Beaconsfield road.

He was the father of Mrs. Margaret Getchell Parsons of Auburn, book editor of the Sunday Telegram and The Evening Gazette, who is the wife of Eugene O. Parsons, garden editor of these newspapers.

Dr. Getchell was formerly Central Massachusetts' leading specialist in ear, throat and lung ailments. He performed Worcester's first adenoid removal in the 1880's.

His work woth tuberculosis led to the founding of Putnam Ward at Belmont Hospital, in 1914. Getchell Clinic at the hospital is named for him. A tablet commemorating his work at the hospital was placed there a few years ago. Dr. Getchell also was president of the Worcester Tuberculosis Relief Association for many years.

Dr. Getchell remained on the staff of Putnam Ward until 1946 and frequently visited the hospital.

He was born in Waterville, Me., July 9, 1857, a son of the later Walter B. and Marie Antoinette (Colby) Getchell. He attended the Waterville schools, Waterville Classical Institute and was graduated from Colby University, now Colby College, Waterville, in 1878. He attended Harvard Medical School, 1878-1879 and Bridgewater State Normal School, 1880-81.

He first came to Worcester in 1881 and was principal of the old Woodland Street School for a year during an interruption in his medical studies. He completed his medical studies at Jefferson Medical College Philadelphia, from which he was graduated in 1885. He did postgraduate work at Philadelphia Polyclinic School and Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Getchell was the first house officer at City Hospital in 1883-1884. At that time, the hospital had two buildings--one for men and one for women accommodating 40 patients.

It was during his early medical career when Dr. Getchell performed Worcester's first adenoid operation. Up until then, it had not been customary to remove adenoids with tonsils. At about that time, two other first were performed here. The late Dr. Homer Gage removed an appendix and the late Dr. David Harrower performed a mastoid operation.

About this time, he became a member of the staff of the Washington Free Dispensary, 11 Trumbull street, which had been founded by Ichabod Washburn and was later moved to Belmont street and became Memorial Hospital. The hospital staff then consisted of two men, Dr. Getchell and the later Dr. Oliver H. Everett.

About 40 years ago when the American College of Surgeons was founded, Dr. Getchell received a singular honor. He and Dr. Gage were the only two men asked to join the organization's original group.

For many years, he was head of the nose and throat out-patient department at Memorial Hospital.

Among the many medical posts he held were: Laryngologist, City Hospital; staff member of City and Memorial Hospitals, visiting physician, Belmont Hospital; consulting laryngologist and trustee, Massachusetts State Sanitarium, Rutland; consulting physician, Baldwinville Hospital Cottages for Children; trustee, Massachusetts Hospital for Epileptics; trustee, Massachusetts Commission on Hospitals for Consumptives.

He was a founder of the Bohemian Club and a member of the Worcester Shakespeare Club. He was previously a member of the former Quinsigamond Boat Club, Tatnuck Country Club, Worcester Economic Club and the Twentieth Century Club.

He was formerly a member of the governing board of Worcester County Musical Association and Chamber of Commerce and was an incorporator of Worcester County Institution for Savings.

Dr. Getchell belonged to the following medical societies: American Laryngological Association American Otological, Rhinological and Laryngological Association; New England Otological, Rhinological and Laryngological Association; American Association for Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis; American Climatological Association, Massachusetts Medical Society and Worcester District Medical Society.

He was the last surviving member of the 12 Apostles, a group of a dozen leading Worcester doctors which held regular dinner meetings to discuss the city's medical activities.

His wife was the late Mrs. Edith Loring Pierce Getchell, a painter and etcher whose works hang in many Worcester homes. They were married in Philadelphia in 1886. Mrs. Getchell died several years ago. In addition to Mrs. Parsons, they had another daughter, Miss Ruth Pierce Getchell, who died many years ago.

Among Dr. Getchell's most-prized possessions was an oil portrait of himself by the late well-known American artist, Thomas Eakins. The portrait was done about 45 years ago when Dr. Getchell was attending a Philadelphia medical meeting. Mrs. Getchell has [sic] formerly studied with Eakins. The portrait now hangs at Worcester Art Museum, where it is on loan from Mrs. Parsons.

Dr. Getchell was an inveterate reader and was fond of the classics, especially Plato. He was also a student of Lincoln and of the Civil War.

Besides his daughter, Mrs. Parsons, he leaves a granddaughter, Miss Carol Parsons, also of Auburn.

Funeral services will be held at Mrs. Parsons' home, 6 Leicester street, Auburn, Tuesday at 11 a.m. Burial will be in Hillside Cemetery, Auburn.
["Worcester Telegram" (Worcester, MA), October 2, 1950. Courtesy of Joy Hennig, Local History & Genealogy Librarian, Worcester Public Library.]

Family links: 
  Edith Loring Peirce Getchell (1855 - 1940)*
  Margaret Colby Getchell Parsons (1891 - 1970)*
*Calculated relationship
Hillside Cemetery
Worcester County
Massachusetts, USA
Created by: John W. Coffey
Record added: Jan 22, 2014
Find A Grave Memorial# 123928099
Dr Albert Colby Getchell
Added by: Bob Kenney
Dr Albert Colby Getchell
Added by: Bob Kenney
Dr Albert Colby Getchell
Added by: John W. Coffey
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