Medical memoir shares insights on long career
Dr. Marvin J. and Rob Stone in Glasgow, Scotland while at a meeting honoring the work of Sir William Osler, a Canadian physician also known as the father of internal medicine. Photos: Courtesy Dr. Marvin J. Stone

By Deb Silverthorn

 The M.D. initial’s after a name may signify “medical doctor,” but for Dr. Marvin J. Stone, the M.D. also stands for “makes a difference.” Recalling his half-century plus career in medicine, Stone has written a medical memoir: “When to Act and When to Refrain.”

Available online, through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, Stone’s book was written to inspire young people at various stages of their medical careers. 

“Decisions involved in patient care require judgment that comes from knowledge and experience. Because medicine is an uncertain art quandaries abound,” said Stone. “Thus, ‘when to act and when to refrain’ are key aspects of a doctor’s career.”

Stone was born in Columbus, Ohio, the son of Lillian and Roy and brother of Jocelyn, all of blessed memory. He was raised in Bexley, Ohio, and remains a Buckeye fan.

Stone and his wife Jill of blessed memory, who he met while they were students at Ohio State, married while he was at University of Chicago Medical School. He then completed his postgraduate training at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis and the National Institutes of Health.

Harlan Pollock and Erwin Thal, both of blessed memory, who were beloved in Dallas’ Jewish community and legendary in Dallas’ medical scene, were lifelong friends of Stone. The trio’s bond, from childhood through Ohio State, their ZBT fraternity brotherhood and their professional and family lives, were unbreakable. They encouraged Stone to finish his training in Dallas and the Stone family, including young children Nancy and Rob, made the move in 1968. 

He was a hematology-oncology resident, fellow and faculty member at UT Southwestern. In 1976, he became the first chief of oncology and director of the Baylor Sammons Cancer Center in Dallas, positions he held for 32 years.

Stone’s son Rob, a documentary filmmaker, who is married to Melissa and the father of Stone’s granddaughters Chelsea and Sabrina, said “I’m the luckiest son on the planet to have my parents and my Dad, who saved lives through his career of noble calling. He’s my hero.”

“He was always interested and involved in everything in our lives,” said Rob, “and he, and my mom were always supportive of whatever we were doing.”

Father and son have connected on another level regarding Stone’s career-long admiration for Sir William Osler, who as the father of internal medicine, a clinician and educator, motivated Stone throughout his career.

The younger Stone, who’d known of his father’s respect for Osler, began attending meetings of the American Osler Society, of which Stone served as president. Rob produced the documentary, “Sir William Osler: Science and the Art of Medicine,” and he too now sits on the organization’s board.

“Osler’s aphorisms and quotes are as true today as they were more than 100 years ago,” said Rob calling his father a ‘20th-century Osler.’ How to live and care for others? Osler’s words always meant so much to my dad and for us to have had the opportunity to share this connection, is something I’ll always treasure. The equanimity and love of life and patients, from the human aspects — they are definitely kindred spirits.”

For nine years Stone has taught an undergraduate honors course in medical humanities with Dennis Kratz, senior associate provost and founding director of the Center for Asian Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas. 

“Marvin is remarkable in the quiet way he lures people in and makes them want to listen to anything he has to say,” said Kratz, who with Stone previously taught a medical history and humanities course for Texas A&M medical students at Baylor. “I’m the Abbott to his Costello, the Lewis to his Martin. It’s an absolute treat and honor to be alongside him as students’ eyes are opened.”

Longtime members of Temple Emanu-El, the Stone family dedicated the congregation’s Jill Stone Community Garden to honor its matriarch, who passed away in 2004. 

In 1999, Stone was recognized, due to the generosity of Bobbie and Leo Fields, with the naming of the Marvin J. Stone Library at the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research. In 2009, Jill was honored, posthumously, with the naming of Jill Stone BioInformation Center within the Stone Library. 

Stone is now remarried to Kathy. In 2010, the couple created a scholarship at UT Southwestern Medical School and a Distinguished Professorship of Humanities in Medicine and Science at UT Dallas.

“Many of my colleagues say we lived and worked in the golden age of medicine and, while it has been incredible, I believe we will soon see scientific advances in precision medicine, neuro-science and gene editing,” said Stone, who’s written more than 250 articles and book chapters.

“To see your students excel, to perform an experiment that yields new scientific knowledge, and especially to help some seriously ill patients recover, so they can see their children and grandchildren grow up — what more could one ask,” said Stone

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