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 Madelene Shelby <I>Simons</I> Beckenbach

Madelene Shelby Simons Beckenbach

Birth
Death 12 Sep 1985 (aged 72)
Burial Bay City, Matagorda County, Texas, USA
Memorial ID 22726426 · View Source
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Madelene Shelby Simons was a remarkable woman for her time. She graduated at the age of 20 from Rice Institute in 1933 with a B.A. degree in Home Economics. She met her future husband, Edwin Ford Beckenbach, when she was a sophomore and he was working on his Ph.D. She was taking a math class from him and needed extra help. He offered to tutor her. Two years later, 30 August 1933, they were married in the garden at her parent's home in Bay City, Texas.

However, Ed and Madelene's first few years together were filled with heart-ache. From 1933 to 1939, Madelene suffered three miscarriages. Finally deciding that perhaps she would be unable to have children, she decided to pursue a career instead. Following in the footsteps of her father and brothers, she decided to become a doctor. She returned to school at the University of Houston from 1935 to 1938 and attended the University of Michigan after Ed had accepted a position there as an Assistant Professor. Even though her first child was born in 1939, she continued her pursuit, entering the University of Michigan Medical School in 1941. In 1942, Ed was offered a position at the University of Texas and Madelene transferred to the University of Texas Medical School where she graduated in 1946, after having given birth to her second child in 1943.

At about the time of Madelene's graduation from medical school, Ed was offered a full Professorship at the University of California at Los Angeles so Madelene applied to several hospitals in the Los Angeles area to do her internship. At that time, a doctor entering "General Practice" (today's "Family Medicine") was only required to do a one year internship in order to hang up their shingle. However, it was not easy for Madelene to find a position. Almost all of the hospitals, including the UCLA Medical Center and the USC Medical Center turned her down because she was a woman. Interns were required to work 24 or 48 hour shifts, sleeping on call at the hospital. None of the hospitals had facilities for this for women doctors. She finally did find a position at Santa Monica Hospital where she was allowed to bunk in with the nurses. Needless to say, throughout her professional life, she continued her association with Santa Monica Hospital, giving birth to her last child there two years after completing her internship.

Through the 1950s, Madelene had a very successful medical practice and was very involved in her community. She was an active member of the Pilots Club, a woman's philanthropic organization at one time serving as President of the organization. She actively participated in the American Medical Association, often attending their conventions. She was part of the team that performed the fist successful open heart operation on at infant at Santa Monica Hospital. She had delivered the baby only days before.

After a series of heart attacks and strokes, she formally retired in 1972 and, in 1980, returned to Texas, moving to Longview, Gregg County, with her daughter, Lenann and her family. Madelene passed away 12 September 1985 in Longview and was buried next to her parents in Cedarvale Cemetery in Bay City, Matagorda County, Texas. She spent her final years renewing old Texas friendships and enjoying her grandchildren.


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  • Created by: Suzy & Rob
  • Added: 7 Nov 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 22726426
  • Suzy & Rob
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Madelene Shelby Simons Beckenbach (28 Mar 1913–12 Sep 1985), Find A Grave Memorial no. 22726426, citing Cedarvale Bay City Cemetery, Bay City, Matagorda County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Suzy & Rob (contributor 46950534) .