Tribute to Wendell T. Caraway

Wendell T. Caraway (1920-2001)

With the death in August of Wendell T. Caraway, the History Division has lost a devoted historian, friend and benefactor, the the Association for Diagnostics & Laboratory Medicine (formerly AACC) one of its prime leaders and clinical chemistry a productive scientist and educator.

Via periodic donations from WTC the Caraway Endowment Fund was created in 1994 to support the Division, and managed by the Van Slyke Foundation. The principal of this fund now approaches $60,000, and together with the Elizabeth Smith Endowment Fund has stabilized basic financial needs so that solicitation of industries and the Association for Diagnostics & Laboratory Medicine (ADLM) members is minimized.

Biographical sketches of Caraway will appear elsewhere. Our purpose here is to commemorate his historical interests. We will briefly mention, however, some highlights of Wendell's career. He served as the ADLM’s 17th president in 1965-66 at a time where there was not yet a "national office" in Washington, DC. During his tenure he helped create the National Registry in Clinical Chemistry (NRCC), and later (1971-77) served as a Director of the American Board of Clinical Chemistry. He chaired the 5th International Congress on Clinical Chemistry held in Detroit in 1963. He served on the Board of Editors of Clinical Chemistry, 1962-67, and of Clinica Chemica Acta, 1967-81. His research was varied, but he took extra pride in developing microchemical procedures and methods, and produced a text on this topic. He published on "chemical and diagnostic specificity of laboratory tests; sources of error and accuracy in clinical chemistry; chemical interference by drugs with laboratory test procedures; scientific development of clinical chemistry ad clinical chemistry instrumentation; mathematics in clinical chemistry." He contributed chapters to the classic text by Tietz: Fundamentals of Clinical Chemistry (1970, 1976, 1987), and to Tietz's Textbook of Clinical Chemistry (1986). In 1994 Caraway privately published and distributed a 56-page biography of Victor C. Myers, clinical biochemist, who was a pioneer in clinical chemistry.

A short biography of Wendell was published in our History Newsletter (Vol. 3, No. 1, Winter 1994, p.3). It states that "Dr. Caraway's interest in the history of clinical chemistry stems from the invitation by Dr. Max M. Friedman (1st president, ADLM), then chairman of the Historical Committee of the ADLM, to write on the scientific development of clinical chemistry to 1948. This was published in Clinical Chemistry (Vol. 19, No. 4, 373-83) on the 25th anniversary of the Association in 1973. Subsequent work has centered on the development of clinical instrumentation, lectures pertaining to the history of clinical chemistry, and biographical material. Wendell served as the second chairman of the History Committee from 1974 through 1979.

In 1999, WTC published a two-part series on "Some recollections of the ADLM and related activities" in Clinical Chemistry (45:591-2; 750-2). He then added a third part recently in the History Newsletter (Spring 2000, 9(2): 2-8).

Dr. Caraway has served continuously as a consultant on the Executive Committee since the Division was created early in 1991, and appointed by then ADLM President Karen L. Nickel. In 1997 (perhaps earlier) he was the first of our Division's executive to visit the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia and established there a firm contact with the CHF President, Dr. Arnold Thackray. In a letter to Dr. Thackray of September 4, 1997, Wendell wrote "… I have a fairly good collection of books related to the history of chemistry, biochemistry, laboratory medicine, etc. I expect to catalog these in the near future and shall send you a list when finished." Dr. Harland L. Verrill, Wendell's successor at the Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan and a close friend of Wendell's, will help ensure that Wendell's book collection and professional affairs papers reach the CHF.

Sanuel Meites