Dr. Robert McClelland RIP
Dr. McClelland's drawing of Kennedy's wounds.
As his DMN obit implies - that Dr. McClelland was "the lone dissenting voice among operating room doctors" is not true. Yes four of them wrote an article that promoted their views - but there were more than four people in that room and most of them said the gunshot wound to the head that caused death was a large exit wound to the rear of the head.
I met Dr. McClelland in Dallas last November at the CAPA meeting at the Old Red Courthouse at Dealey Plaza, when five of the former Parkland doctors were reunited as part of CAPA's Last Living Witness program.
All five were in agreement that the President was killed by a gun shot to the head that tore out a large portion of the back of his head - clearly an exit wound.
When Dr. McClelland addressed the 2013 Wecht Conference in Pittsburgh via Skype, he said he stood at the end of the gurney above JFK's head for quite a long time - long enough to see the massive damage to the back of JFK's head and conclude that there was no way to save him.
CAPA gave Dr. McClelland a "Profiles in Courage" award at the November 2018 event in Dallas.
The DMN just can't get over that they blew it.
Dallas Morning News
SEPTEMBER 14, 2019
Robert McClelland, surgeon who tried to save JFK and believed there was a second shooter, dies at 89.
A skilled surgeon at UT Southwestern whose true passion was teaching, he's among the luminaries whose images grace Parkland's walls today.
Photo: Dr. Robert McClelland holds the blod-stained shirt he was wearing on Nov. 22, 1963, when he treated President John F. Kennedy in the emergency room at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.(LM Otero / AP)
By Marc Ramirez
Sep 14, 2019
Inextricably linked to the death of John F. Kennedy, surgeon Robert McClelland dutifully preserved the blood-soaked white dress shirt he wore the day he tried to save the president's life in 1963.
For the rest of his life, the retired professor emeritus of UT Southwestern's medical school also clung staunchly to a contentious opinion forged firsthand: that one of the shots that had struck Kennedy had come from the front, which would require the existence of a second gunman.
Robert Nelson McClelland, the lone dissenting voice among the operating-room doctors who tried to save the president at Parkland Memorial Hospital, died Tuesday of renal failure. He was 89.
A celebration of his life is set for 1 p.m. Monday at Highland Park United Methodist Church's Cox Chapel, 3300 Mockingbird Lane in Dallas.
A skilled surgeon whose true passion was teaching, he's among the luminaries whose images grace Parkland's walls today. In a note to campus colleagues, Dr. William Turner of the campus's department of surgery, called McClelland "the titan among those giants," saying the institution had "lost one of its heroes."
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An insatiably curious reader who doted on his seven grandchildren, McClelland was a driving force in surgical education at UT Southwestern for decades and oversaw the launch of its liver surgery program.
He was modest and unassuming despite his accomplishments and role in history. But he also had an irreverent side, allowing his grandkids as young children to watch the cheeky television show South Park with him, to the occasional dismay of their parents.
"I would get angry," said daughter Alison McClelland of Dallas. "His defense was that it was philosophical."
Photo: Dr. Robert McClelland spoke as students Sylvia Mualcin (left) and Kayla Conner listened on stage during a presentation at Lewisville High School-Harmon Campus in November 2013.(File photo)
Dr. Robert McClelland acted as a juror in a mock trisl for Lee Harvey Oswald at the old criminal courts building in Dallas on June 21, 2013.(File photo)
Robert McClelland was born Nov. 20, 1929, in Gilmer, the same East Texas town that spawned musicians Don Henley and Johnny Mathis. His intellect and curiosity were evident early, his passion for discovery stoked by a chemistry set he got at age 11.
He graduated in 1947 as valedictorian of Gilmer High and, as the grandson of a physician, was further inspired to pursue medicine through the mentorship of two local physicians.
After studying at the University of Texas in Austin, he earned his doctorate at the school's medical branch in Galveston in 1954. He spent two years in Germany as a general medical officer for the U.S. Air Force, then returned to Texas to begin residency at what is now UT Southwestern.
It was there that he would meet Connie Logan, a head nurse at Parkland whom he'd noticed several times at church and finally got the nerve to ask out. They married in May 1958 and settled in Highland Park, where they raised three children.
Dr. Robert McClelland joined the faculty at UT Southwestern and Parkland in 1962 and spent his entire career there.
He completed his residency in 1962 and joined the faculty at UT Southwestern and Parkland, where the following year, that momentous November day became forever tied to his life story.
He was 34 then, screening a film on hernia repair for hospital interns and residents, when a colleague burst in and asked him to help operate on the president of the United States.
As Kennedy lay wounded on the operating table in Trauma Room One, McClelland assisted as surgeons Malcolm Perry and Charles Baxter performed a tracheotomy in an attempt to save the president. For 10 minutes, he stood above Kennedy's head and stared at "that terrible hole," as he put it, tackling his duty as instinctively as a fireman slides down a pole.
But from his vantage point, one shot seemed to have come from the front — which would mean Lee Harvey Oswald, whom McClelland would be called to operate on just two days later, wasn't the only gunman.
"The shot that killed [Kennedy] probably was from the back, but I have to honestly say what I think," McLelland told The News.
The other four attending physicians would eventually pen a joint article in The Journal of the American Medical Association concluding there were two shots, from the back and above. The journal's editor noted McClelland's differing opinion, emphasizing, however, that he wasn't an "expert in forensic pathology and ballistic wounds."
Photo: From left: Drs. Robert McClelland, Kenneth Salyer and Ronald Jones were all in the emergency room at Parkland Memorial Hospital when President John F. Kennedy was brought there on Nov. 22, 1963.(File photo)
McClelland never wavered, and a scene from Oliver Stone's JFK depicts him offering his dissenting opinion in court, which McClelland said never actually happened. However, he did once act as a juror in a 2013 mock trial giving Oswald his chance in the courtroom. (The trial ended in a hung jury, with the vote 9-3 in favor of a guilty verdict.)
McClelland would go on to spend his entire career at UT Southwestern, where generations of students and residents knew him as "Dr. Mac" and called him for years afterward seeking advice about difficult cases.
In 1974, he launched the medical journal Selected Readings in General Surgery after requests from former residents for copies of papers discussed in a journal club he'd started. The club eventually became a Saturday morning event, led by McClelland, for the school's surgery department, with the compilations earning national and worldwide subscribers as they covered the entire field of general surgery.
A prodigious reader, he consumed history books and subscribed to dozens of medical journals.
"He was a very sharp man," said Scot Sandlin, who with others occasionally met McClelland in his later years for breakfast gatherings at the Flying Fish at Preston Center. "A very factual kind of guy."
McClelland's grandson, William Yoste of Oxford, Miss., with whom he would go to movies and enjoy Goff's Hamburgers, recalled the tales "Pop" would tell him as a child before he went to sleep.
"Instead of reading me bedtime stories about the rabbit and the hare, he would tell me about growing up in Gilmer, or coming to Dallas before it was anything," Yoste said. "Everything he said to anybody just left you wanting more, hoping that when one story ended another would begin."
McClelland adored his hundreds of books more than any other material thing.
"When we moved him, his only requirement was that he had to have a place with bookcases in every room," said daughter Alison, whose memories of her father as a child were of him behind a pile of journals on his huge office desk, blaring classical music while flanked by his Siamese cat, Bandit.
"We needed to have custom bookcases built. He would give anybody the shirt off his back, but he would never loan out his books."
Until last weekend, McClelland had remained engaged, reading constantly and asking a million questions about what his family members were up to. Then things took a sudden turn.
By Tuesday afternoon a hospital bed had been wheeled in, around which the family gathered, playing Mozart and screening South Park on the TV in tribute. McClelland died peacefully that evening.
In addition to daughter Alison and grandson William, McClelland is survived by his wife, Connie, of Dallas; son Chris McClelland and daughter Julie Barrett of New York City; six grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.
The family requests that memorial contributions be made to the Parkland Surgical Society Robert N. McClelland Lectureship Fund at the Southwestern Medical Foundation, 3889 Maple Ave., Suite 100, Dallas, TX 75219.
. Marc Ramirez is a veteran narrative/lifestyles journalist and food/drink enthusiast. In addition to the Dallas Morning News, he has worked for the Seattle Times, The Wall Street Journal and Phoenix New Times and has degrees from the University of Notre Dame and the University of California-Berkeley. When life gives him lemons, he makes Aviations.
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Dr. McClelland's sketch of JFK's wounds, as he observed them on Nov. 22, 1963
Dr. McClelland stood for a half hour at the end of the gurney with JFK's head directly in front of him.
Dr. McClelland's sketch of JFK's wounds, as he observed them on Nov. 22, 1963
Dr. McClelland stood for a half hour at the end of the gurney with JFK's head directly in front of him.
Dr. Robert McClelland - Evidence of Conspiracy
Surgeon in ER insists 2 gunmen shot JFK
Dr. McClelland's drawing of JFK's wounds.
Doctor first to see Kennedy's wound
MICHAEL A. FUOCO
OCT 17, 2013
A surgeon who half a century ago was among the doctors who tried to save President John F. Kennedy's life said Thursday that the Warren Commission got it wrong in determining a lone gunman assassinated JFK in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.
Speaking via teleconference to a Duquesne University symposium marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination, Robert N. McClelland said he was the first doctor in Parkland Hospital's Trauma Room One to notice the massive wound in the back of Kennedy's skull and that a trauma of that size had to be an exit wound.
"The whole right side of his skull was gone. I could look inside his skull cavity. Obviously, it was a mortal wound," he told a spellbound audience of legal, medical, forensic and investigative experts and the public who packed the university's Power Ballroom.
Dr. McClelland, now 83 and professor emeritus at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, said that because it was an exit wound, it logically followed that it had been fired from in front of the president's limousine. And, in turn, that meant a second gunman was involved in the assassination, contradicting the Warren Commission's finding that there was but one assassin.
The Warren Commission determined that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he fired three times with a high-powered rifle on the president's motorcade in Dealey Plaza from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. The commission said that one bullet missed, another went through the president's neck and also wounded Texas Gov. John Connolly -- the so-called "single bullet theory" -- and the third caused the fatal head wound.
But Dr. McClelland was resolute. "Having seen what I saw" in the emergency room and then viewing the Zapruder film of the assassination, he said, he believes JFK "was initially hit from a bullet fired from the sixth floor that went through his back and out through his neck. The next injury was caused by somebody behind the picket fence on the grassy knoll firing a shot that blew out the right side of his head."
Speaking on the first day of the three-day symposium sponsored by the university's Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law, Dr. McClelland also recounted how two days after Kennedy's assassination he and other surgeons tried in vain to save Oswald's life after he was shot by Jack Ruby while being transferred from Dallas police headquarters to the county jail.
In his address, Dr. Wecht, the renowned forensic pathologist and longtime critic of the Warren Report, railed against what he called was the "inept, inexplicable, totally incompetent" autopsy performed on the president by Navy pathologists James J. Humes and J. Thornton Boswell. They concluded the president had been struck by two bullets, fired from above and behind, with the fatal shot being the one that struck his head.
"They had never done a single gunshot wound autopsy before. If you heard of this in another country, you'd say condescendingly and dismissively, 'What do you expect from that country?' but this was our country," Dr. Wecht said. "This should bother you so much; this should be so distressing, even 50 years later."
Dr. Wecht, who used a skull and dissected a brain during his address to illustrate his criticism of the autopsy and what wasn't done, said the "cold case" needs to be reopened.
"The Warren Commission Report is scientifically absurd," he said. The burden of the report's detractors is not to have all the answers about the assassination, he said, but to point out defects in the investigation, which they have done. He received a standing ovation.
Among the speakers today will be Academy Award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone, director of the controversial 1991 film "JFK" and director/narrator of the Showtime docu-series "Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States."
First Published October 17, 2013
By Mark Hodge, The Sun
June 21, 2017
Signed drawing entitled ''President Kennedy's Wounds," rendered by Dr. Robert McClelland, one of the physicians who attended to John F. Kennedy at Parkland Hospital after the President was shot.Nate D Sanders Auctions
A fascinating drawing by the surgeon who tried to save John F. Kennedy’s life could sensationally prove Kennedy was shot by two different gunmen.
Dr. Robert McClelland held JFK’s head as he went into theater at Parkland Hospital after he was gunned down while traveling through Dallas, Texas, in an open-top convertible in 1963.
Nothing could be done to save the President and he died, aged just 46, 20 minutes after arrival, sparking an unprecedented outpouring of grief across America.
McClelland later drew a rudimentary sketch of the right side of Kennedy’s head and noted the entrance and exit wounds of the bullets, supposedly fired by lone assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
The surgeon noted two different entrance wounds – one low in the neck and one at his hairline – which crucially came from different directions, suggesting there were two separate shooters.
He noted that the horrific fatal wound to the back of the President’s head was from a bullet exiting the skull rather than entering it.
This is in conflict to the lone gunman theory as Oswald was behind Kennedy’s motorcade when he fired the shots from the sixth floor of a book depository building.
McClelland has previously questioned the conclusion of the Warren Commission report into the assassination, which found that Oswald acted alone.
The respected surgeon’s drawing, which has been put up for auction, appears to support the theory that a second shooter stood on the grassy knoll in front of the motorcade.
McClelland’s sketch, which he signed, shows a large four to five inch exit wound at the back of JFK’s head.
This, he suggests, correlates to an entry wound at Kennedy’s hairline, although he admits he didn’t see that wound properly.
Yet, he is adamant that he saw “clearly” another entry wound low in the neck.
McClelland believed the first bullet hit Kennedy in the back, not in the front as was assumed at the time.
He also insists the second shot hit the iconic Democrat throwing his head violently backward which would only happen if he was struck by a bullet from the front and not above and behind.
President John F. Kennedy is struck by an assassin’s bullet as he travels through Dallas in a motorcade.Getty Images
The compelling drawing – which has been in the hands of a private collector for years – has emerged for auction 54 years after JFK’s assassination and is tipped to sell for nearly $4,000.
Michael Kirk, auctioneer at US-based Nate D. Sanders, which is selling the sketch, said the drawing is credible proof that more than one killer was involved in the infamous assassination.
He said: “McClelland saw Kennedy’s wounds first hand when he was brought into the emergency room and he has always been of the mind that they were consistent with two shooters.
“He is a credible surgeon who has believed for more than 50 years that the wound that did the most damage could not have come from a bullet above and behind, but only from a shooter stood in front of Kennedy.
There are legions of people who believe that there was something more than was reported in the Warren Commission which concluded Oswald was acting alone and this diagram gives credence to their theory.”
Kennedy was assassinated while traveling through Dallas, Texas, in an open-top convertible on November 22, 1963.
President John F. Kennedy’s murderer, Lee Harvey Oswald, speaks during a press conference after his arrest in Dallas. Lee Harvey Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby on the eve of Kennedy’s burial.AFP/Getty Images
As their vehicle passed the Texas School Book Depository Building, former marine Oswald fired three shots from the sixth floor, fatally wounding President Kennedy.
Kennedy was pronounced dead 30 minutes later at Parkland Hospital. He was 46 years old.
Less than an hour after Kennedy was shot, Oswald killed a policeman who questioned him on the street near his dormitory in Dallas.
Thirty minutes later, Oswald was arrested in a movie theater by police responding to reports of a suspect.
On November 24, he was brought to the basement of the Dallas police headquarters on his way to a more secure county jail.
As Oswald came into the room, nightclub owner Jack Ruby emerged from the crowd and fatally wounded him with a single shot from a concealed revolver.
In a twist of fate, McClelland also operated on Oswald after the prime suspect was fatally shot in the abdomen two days later.
The Warren Commission was a nearly year-long investigation led by Chief Justice Earl Warren that concluded Oswald acted alone in assassinating Kennedy and that there was no conspiracy involved.