Following a year of informal discussions among a number of plastic surgeons in New England, Dr. Radford Tanzer circulated a letter to all the certified members of the American Board of Plastic Surgery practicing in the New England area in December of 1958 — all of 19 surgeons! He indicated therein a desire to form a society to further the interests of plastic surgery in New England and to provide a medium for closer rapport among those practicing the specialty. Another letter followed on February 13, 1959, indicating unanimous agreement among those polled in favor of an organizational meeting to lay the foundation for this new Society.
On Saturday, April 11, 1959, at the Harvard Club in Boston this first meeting took place, called to order by Dr. Tanzer with 18 others attending. Dr. Bradford Cannon was elected Chairman and Dr. Tanzer was elected temporary Clerk. Early, at times heated, discussions centered on whether the society should be primarily economically oriented rather than scientifically and professionally. Subsequently, the group adopted the following purposes for the Society:
A. To generate within its membership an increase in scientific knowledge
B. To promote educational and research activities in the field of plastic surgery.
C. To exert its influence towards the improvement of standards of practice.
D. To improve rapport among plastic surgeons, patients, and the public.
A corporation type of organization was decided upon and the Articles of Incorporation was recorded later at Hanover, New Hampshire on May 22, 1959.
On December 5, 1959, the Organization Committee met at the Harvard Club with Doctors Tanzer, Cannon, Climo, and Sexton present. By-Laws were discussed and arrangements were made for their circulation after legal consultation with the firm of Orr and Reno of Concord, New Hampshire. Arrangements were made for the first formal scientific and social meeting. Its format of a morning of case presentations at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, followed by a luncheon, was decided upon.
On Friday morning, April 8, 1960, the first scientific meeting was called to order at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital with Dr. Murray hosting and Dr. Cannon chairing the program. There were 19 members in attendance and six papers presented. A luncheon was followed by a long business meeting and then a dinner at the Harvard Club. Dr. Kazanjian became the first President with Dr. Sexton the Secretary/Treasurer. For the next few years, the Friday one-day format continued in vogue as the Society gradually grew to 45 members in 1965.
In the spring of 1966, Dr. Tanzer and Dr. Rueckert hosted a weekend meeting in Hanover, New Hampshire combining the meeting with the Quebec Regional Society. A Friday evening social hour preceded the Saturday scientific and business program.
CELEBRATING THE N.E.S.P.R.S. 40th ANNIVERSARY
Newport, Rhode Island – June 5, 1999
[Photo Taken June 5, 1999 at the Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport, RI]
Left to Right: Richard Stahl, M.D., President (1999-2000); Thomas Krizek, M.D., Past President and Honorary Speaker; Founding Members Armand Versaci, M.D., Bradford Cannon, M.D., Leonard Smith, M.D., Joseph Murray, M.D.; and Robert Savage, President (1998-1999)
The meetings continued to be held on a Saturday in early to mid-April through the next few years with the full scientific, social and business programs gradually extending over a full weekend of activities. A gradual trend to later and later in the spring developed to take advantage of improving weather so that soon the meetings were being held in late May or early June.
With the first meeting in Vermont held in June of 1971, the use of a resort area to encourage full family participation at the meetings was tried, and it has since become most popular. Scientific meetings have been expanded to two morning sessions. The hosts have outdone each other each year with interesting family programs, sightseeing, etc., and the Saturday banquet has become a gala affair.
In 1969, the Executive Council was enlarged to get more of the incoming members active in the Society work. During 1974, a Newsletter began circulation to keep the members aware of any developments and news affecting the New England Society. At the 1975 meeting, a completely new set of By-Laws was adopted which, in part, defined more specifically membership, ethical requirements, and procedures to handle improper ethical activity.
As the running of the Society became more complicated, in 1989 – 1990, the officers implemented a Meeting Coordinator to assist them. The 1991 annual meeting in Portland, Maine was the first meeting that was organized and run by their only paid employee, Charlotte Constantian, Administrative Director.
To keep with the unique flavor of the Society and to continue with the requests of the growing Society, in 1994 the Saturday Night Formal Dinner Dance was restructured and the Family Semi-Formal Dinner was implemented. Children were now included and were requested to be appropriately dressed for dinner. Year after year glee and excitement can be heard from children as families enter the dining room for the Annual Saturday Night Dinner.
In 1993, Dr. Kenneth Marshall, presiding Vice President also serving as Scientific Program Chair, with the assistance of the Executive Council, established the Joseph E. Murray, M.D. Resident Award. The award is given annually for the best seven-minute paper presented by a medical student, resident, or fellow (clinical or research) in good standing at an approved New England plastic surgery training program, who presents work for which he/she was the principal investigator and which must not have been previously presented or published. The Murray Award continues to be a much sought after prize.
Following in the footsteps of the Murray Award, the Founders’ Award was established in 1998. The Founders’ Award is given annually for the best seven-minute paper presented by an Active Member, who is in good standing and who presents work for which he/she was the principal investigator and which must not have been previously presented or published. Each year Active Members continue to submit excellent work to compete for this prestigious honor.
The original incorporation papers, that had been discovered and formally framed in the early 1990s, had been passed on each year to the presiding President. In the spring of 2006, they were officially donated to the Countway Library at Harvard Medical School in the Archives of Plastic Surgery in Boston, Massachusetts.
Our membership now is over 125. We have indeed come a long way. Our meetings are well attended. Exhibitors dot the corridors of our meeting places. Spouses and children happily return each year to renew lasting acquaintances. Our scientific programs get better each year highlighted by guest speakers of national prominence. We are achieving the goals set forth by our founders more than 50 years ago.