Print This Issue

February 20, 2007, Volume 53, No. 23

Dr. Chirico, Medicine

Anna-Maria Chirico

Dr. Anna-Marie Chirico, a distinguished internist and professor emeritus, whose pioneering career spanned nearly 30 years at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, passed away on February 4, at the age of 82.  “She was loved by students, faculty and her friends for her unique combination of absolute pragmatism coupled with warmth, compassion, wit and humor,” said a former student. Dr. Chirico was active in the affairs of the School of Medicine holding numerous positions including Chairman of the Medical Board. She was honored for excellence in teaching with, among others, the Medical Student Government Award (1967) and the Lindback Award (1982) and by the vote of her students to the Teaching Honor Roll (1983). Dr. Chirico also received the Distinguished Alumna Leadership Award from her alma mater, Seton Hill College, in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where she graduated in 1946.

Dr. Chirico earned her medical degree from the University of Chicago School of Medicine in 1950. She was an Intern at Philadelphia General Hospital from 1950-1952, followed by a Hematology Residency at Presbyterian Hospital from 1952-1953 and an Internal Medicine residency at Temple University Hospital from 1953-1956.  She spent several years in private practice and in 1959 joined the faculty at HUP.  She also maintained an Internal Medicine practice at the hospital until she retired in 1987. Dr. Chirico provided compassionate care equally to the most needy and most prominent of Philadelphians. A large portion of her patient population consisted of University faculty and their families evidencing the respect of her peers by whom she was known as the “doctor’s doctor.”

In 1998, Dr. Chirico’s friend and former student, Dr. Andrea Baldeck and Dr. Baldeck’s husband, William Hollis, created an endowment at the Morris Arboretum in Dr. Chirico’s honor.  Dr. Chirico volunteered for years at the Morris Arboretum in the micropropagation lab, where she produced plants for medical research from leaves, twigs or roots using a form of cloning.  The Chirico Horticultural Research Endowment helps fund the continuation of her work at the Arboretum. “Quietly effective, personable, accessible, no-nonsense” is how Dr. Baldeck described her friend and mentor. “She came up through the ranks when few women were in medicine and has always been able to forge the respect and friendship of those around her.” 

Dr. Chirico was a longtime member at Our Mother of Consolation Church in Chestnut Hill.  Through the church, she continued her love of teaching in retirement, spending many years volunteering her time tutoring high school students in science and math in after school programs.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in her memory may be made to the Morris Arboretum Chirico Horticultural Research Endowment, 100 Northwestern Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19118.


Sir John Thouron, Thouron Awards

John Thouron

Sir John Rupert Hunt Thouron, founder of the Thouron Awards, died February 6 at the age of 99. He was born in Cookham, England of an American father descended from Huguenots, who was taken to England as a child, and a British mother descended from the first chairman of Lloyd’s of London. He was educated at Sherborne Dorset. Mr. Thouron married Lorna Elliot in 1930, with whom he had a son, John Julius Thouron, who died in 2006 (Almanac January 31, 2006). This marriage was dissolved in 1939. In 1953 he married Esther duPont who died in 1984.

At the outbreak of World War II, Mr. Thouron enlisted in the Gordon Highlanders and was subsequently commissioned in the Black Watch. Later, he was seconded to the Special Operations Executive, headquartered in Bletchley, with the primary mission of sending personnel, including both U.K. and escaped European military personnel, into occupied countries to sabotage communications and create resistance movements. For a period of time, he was seconded to the General Staff, Scottish Command, to undertake responsibility for instructing the Glasgow Home Guard battalions in the tactics of street and house-to-house fighting, a form of warfare in which the British Army at that time was virtually untrained.

Later in the war he became part of an organization formed for the purpose of foiling any attempts to massacre prisoners of war as the war drew to its close. The plans of the organization involved parachuting behind enemy lines in the vicinity of prisoner-of-war camps, and Mr. Thouron had many parachute jumps, including a number at night, behind German lines.

Inspired by seeing British and American troops fighting side-by-side during the war, Mr. Thouron sought a way to foster continued Anglo-American friendship through an academic exchange. In 1960, he and his wife created the Thouron University of Pennsylvania Fund for British-American Exchange, destined to become one of the world’s leading graduate fellowship programs. Since that time more than 700 students, approximately two-thirds of them British, have studied abroad at either the University of Pennsylvania or at British universities.  Chosen by a competitive process culminating with interviews by the British and American Selection Committees, the Thouron Scholars receive funding to pursue studies in any field of their choosing.

In recognition of his work for the Thouron Award, Mr. Thouron was awarded a CBE in 1967 and a KBE in 1976, on the occasion of the Queen’s visit to Philadelphia for the bicentennial of American independence.  His son, the late John J. Thouron, known as “Tiger,” was awarded an OBE in 2003 for the more than 30 years of work he devoted to the Award.

With an abiding love for Scotland, Mr. Thouron returned regularly to fish the Deveron River, and to pursue his life-long relationship with golf. In 1938 he bested Bobby Locke at Muirfield over 18 holes, and nothing gave him greater pleasure from the age of 70 on than competing shot by shot against his age over 18 holes. In June, 1995, playing at Bidermann Golf Club in Delaware, he was renowned for scoring 75 at age 88. He was the only member of Seminole Golf Club, in Florida, whose name appears at least once on each of the Club’s historic tournament boards.

Mr. Thouron was known internationally for his gardens at Doe Run in Unionville, Pennsylvania, where he took what were originally open fields and created a series of gardens–an Alpine garden, a water garden and a cottage garden, with extensive herbaceous borders, amongst others–that each year attract thousands of horticulturists and garden clubs. Doe Run also has greenhouses with an extensive orchid assemblage. Uniquely, Mr. Thouron had a myrtle  standard, grown from a myrtle sprig taken from the wedding bouquet of Queen Victoria, in whose wedding his grandmother was an attendant. A superb plants man, Mr. Thouron was the first to produce a clear yellow clivia, described by White Flower Farm as “one of the holy grails of the plant world.”


To Report A Death

Almanac appreciates being informed of the deaths of current and former faculty and staff members, students, and other members of the University community.

However, notices of alumni deaths should be directed to the Alumni Records Office at Room 545, Franklin Building, (215) 898-8136 or e-mail record@ben.dev.upenn.edu.

Almanac - February 20, 2007, Volume 53, No. 23