George Mogill, M.D. ’42, may never hang up his stethoscope, at least symbolically.
The Wayne State University School of Medicine will honor the 98-year-old alumnus with a one-time Lifetime Achievement Citation for his meritorious loyalty and commitment to the school, the field of medicine, and the teaching and mentoring of medical students and residents.
“I am exceedingly honored. I don’t know how many have been given this award before, but it seems to be placing me in an extremely elite group, and I am very humbled,” the Bloomfield Hills, Mich., resident said. “Medicine was and is my life, along with my family. I still read my medical journals, go to meetings when I can and keep up on the School of Medicine news with the help of a reading machine.”
The citation will be presented by School of Medicine Dean Jack D. Sobel, M.D., at the Medical Alumni Reunion Day lunch program May 14 in Scott Hall.
Dr. Mogill is a retired Family Medicine physician affiliated with William Beaumont Hospital. He received his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from WSU in 1937. He graduated from the Wayne University College of Medicine in 1942, completed a one-year surgery internship, and then joined the United States Army Medical Corps in 1943.
He landed in Normandy four days after D-Day, caring for patients in the Army’s 8th Field Hospital in France and Germany. He moved home to complete his residency when the war ended.
“I chose Family Medicine by default, when my surgery residency was given away after my military service in World War II, but it was a terrific fit,” he said. “Jewish doctors were not welcome at many hospitals in the area. Grace Hospital in the medical center gave me a home. They gave me privileges as a general practitioner.”
He opened his Detroit office on Second Avenue between Peterboro and Charlotte streets, near the Masonic Temple, and rounded at Grace in the morning and at lunch, seeing 30 to 40 patients a day. His mother was the office nurse.
“I took care of the whole patient. I’m a people doctor. In the early days, we performed tonsillectomies, appendectomies, delivered babies and sewed up wounds in addition to being the pediatrician, psychologist and support system for the whole family. We treated everyone,” he said. “When I came home from Europe and went to open my office, I was told to have different office days to see white and black patients. I refused to segregate. I was about the third doctor in Detroit to have office hours where patients of all colors sat in the same room on the same day. As a result of my loyalty to all people, during the 1967 Detroit riots, my patients guarded my office for days – day in and day out. No harm was done to my office. No looting took place.”
He also visited homebound patients referred by the Wayne County Medical Society. “I made house calls daily on my way home from work. My bags were full of pills and any necessary items I would need at the house. In the old days, pharmacies were not open at night or on Sundays. I had to have antibiotics, syringes, sutures and the like to help people on the spot,” he said. “My home was also a place where patients might come to see me after dinner. I always had an otoscope, stethoscope and supplies at home, as well.”
He moved his practice to Royal Oak for a time before returning to a WSU-affiliated medical school clinic to secure the school’s Family Medicine residency. He joined the School of Medicine’s faculty in 1972 as a clinical instructor in the Department of Family Medicine.
“Dr. Mogill was the most popular preceptor. He invited students on his ambulatory medicine rotation to his home for a large breakfast. Then, he would have the student join him for a game of squash. Only after that did they go in the office,” said Associate Professor of Internal Medicine Diane Levine, M.D. ’82. “His teaching in the office was legendary.”
She tried to join the rotation as a WSU medical student, but it was always full. She eventually met Dr. Mogill in 1982, introduced by her husband, who trained with Dr. Mogill’s son-in-law, WSU Clinical Professor of Medicine Carl Lauter, M.D. ’65, then chief of Medicine at Beaumont during Dr. Levine’s residency.
“I received the Outstanding Voluntary Faculty Award from the WSU classes of 1995 through 2001. Dr. Mogill also received the award for six of the seven years. We tied each time, and we went up to the stage together like an old married couple. He was a delight. He has a great sense of humor and is elegant and charming,” she said. “He was and is young at heart and mind. He loves medicine, his patients and his family. He was a wonderful husband, is a wonderful father and grandfather, and a tremendous physician. He has been a role model for generations of physicians and students.”
He continued to teach throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century. Department of Family Medicine Chair and Professor Tsveti Markova, M.D., met him in 2001 when she became the Family Medicine residency program director for Sinai-Grace Hospital.
“He had some of the highest evaluations as a preceptor as far as I can remember. He taught the heart of medicine. He just accepted them as part of his family. It was truly Family Medicine, not only training them as professionals, but providing them that support that they need,” she said. “With him, it was a bond that lasted throughout their medical education and, later, throughout their professional lives.”
Dr. Mogill was chief of the Department of Family Practice at Harper-Grace Hospital from 1977 to 1984 and later at Sinai-Grace Hospital. He was named an honored alumnus of the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Fraternity in 1980. He received the Southeast Michigan Quality of Care Award presented by Pfizer Inc., in 2000. In 2006, he received both the Exemplary Teaching Award from the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians. He is a lifetime member and former board member of the School of Medicine Alumni Association. In addition, the George Mogill, M.D., Endowed Award for Family Medicine – a gift to the school established in 2000 by a former patient of the doctor – is presented annually during Match Day to a graduating senior committed to specializing in Family Medicine. The award is based on qualities and characteristics exemplified by Dr. Mogill, including scholastic achievement, compassion, volunteerism, leadership, respect of peers, and a sense of humor and joyfulness.
His contributions to the School of Medicine teaching legacy go beyond his curriculum vitae. Class of 2017 medical student Dana Sugar credits Dr. Mogill for greatly affecting her decision to become a physician. Sugar’s sister, Liza, is married to Dr. Mogill’s grandson Jonathan Lauter, M.D., a pediatrician who graduated from the School of Medicine in 2008.
“I think I am a very good pediatrician, but I will never live up to the accomplishments of my grandpa,” Dr. Lauter said. “My grandfather truly embodies what it means to be a doctor. He was not only devoted to his patients, but to his craft. Just the other day, the two of us were out to lunch and a random gentleman stopped by, introduced himself as a former student and asked to have his picture taken with Dr. Mogill. To be fair, my grandpa did not remember him, but it was very clear he had influenced this gentleman a great deal. The admiration and pleasure of running into my grandpa was a joy to see.”
Sugar -- who described Dr. Mogill as a “strong, stubborn and very sweet man” -- considered becoming a physician’s assistant instead of a doctor for a few years.
“I had discussed this with George countless times and he was ruthless and adamant in his conviction that I should choose M.D.,” she said. “It became a conversation we would debate nearly every time we saw each other.”
He even cornered her at synagogue. “It was at the aufruf before Jon and my sister Liza's wedding. This is the religious service held on the shabbat before the wedding. It was a long service at a conservative shul. George was in front of me in the synagogue, and he would turn around in between prayers to convince me to go to medical school. I kid you not. There was no escaping this conversation; we were in shul!” she said. “In reality, he was confronting me with my own self-doubt in those days. He believed in me before I believed in me. I will be forever grateful.”
Dr. Mogill and wife Irma, who died in 2012, have three children, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.