Sunday, August 15, 2010

William Madison Gay

Years Served: 1911
William M. Gay is believed to have attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire; he was listed as a member of the Alpha Delta Phi society at that school. He then received his medical degree (i.e. Doctor of Medicine) from the University of Pennsylvania in 1899. He moved to Boston where he took employment at the Long Island hospital and soon thereafter Mayor Thomas Hart appointed him assistant port physician on February 15, 1901 at a salary of $1,000 a year. The Boston of Health assigned him to work on Deer Island working under the leadership of Paul Carson, the Port Physician. During 1906 Dr. Gay inspected 89,315 passengers, the greatest number ever inspected in the two hundred fifty year history of island quarantine. That amounted to inspecting 244 men, women and children every single day of the year without fail. After years of performing these inspections, Gay must have seen the limitations of his island quarantine work.

Mayor John Francis Fitzgerald temporarily appointed him Port Physician in February 1911 when Paul Carson, the Port Physician, was placed in charge of the Board of Health’s Department of Child Hygiene. By the following month the Mayor appointed him the 16th Port Physician of the city with an announcement of his promotion carried in the March 14, 1911 issue of the Boston Daily Globe. His reign in that position was one of the shortest in the history of the Boston quarantine establishment. He resigned six months later on September 1, 1911. He had battled communicable diseases on Gallop’s Island for longer than any other assistant port physician. His battles against deadly diseases prepared for his next mission in life. Soon thereafter he joined the Army and rose to the rank of Major as a Medical Officer in World War I, cited for his bravery. As a Major in the World War, Dr. Gay won a citation for bravery when the hospital in which he was performing surgical operations at Verdun was bombed. He distinguished himself at Chateau Thierry also.

After the war Dr. Gay worked for the Veteran’s Administration with his last assignment at the Sunmount Hospital near Lake Placid, New York where he supervised the veteran’s administration facilities. He died on May 13, 1933 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


1. Catalogue of the Alpha Delta Phi Society, New York, 1899, Executive Council of the Alpha Delta Phi Society, p. 383

2. Maxwell., W.J., Editor, General Alumni Catalog of the University of Pennsylvania, 1917, p. 800.

3. Boston City Document #87, Officials and Employees of the City of Boston and the County of Suffolk with their residences and compensation, 1906, Boston, Municipal Printing Office, p. 44.

4. Boston City Document #19, Thirty Fifth Annual Report of the Health Department of the City of Boston, for the year 1906, 1907, p. 138.

5. J Am Med Assoc. 1911;LVI(9):March 4, 1911, p. 676.

6. Dr. Gay – Port Physician, Boston Daily Globe, March 14, 1911, p. 9.

7. J Am Med Assoc. 1911;LVI(13):April 1, 1911, p. 974.

10. J Am Med Assoc. 1933, Vol. 100:24, June 10, 1933, p. 1880.

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