Harold Clifton Urschel MD

February 17, 1930November 12, 2012

Harold Clifton Urschel, Jr. passed away on November 12, 2012 at the age of 82. He was born in Toledo, Ohio, on February 17, 1930 to Loma Elizabeth Powell Urschel and Harold Clifton Urschel, Sr. His was an interesting and unusual childhood, in large measure, the harbinger of his remarkable life.

His father was an engineer, an inventor, and entrepreneur who founded the Urschel Engineering Company in Bowling Green, Ohio. During Hal’s early childhood, the family moved to rural Arkansas where his father developed a zinc and copper mining company. His mother homeschooled Hal and instilled in him a lifelong desire for learning, as well as for the morality and faith of her father, Hal’s grandfather, a Methodist Bishop. While in Arkansas, Hal nurtured his love for the outdoors, which continued throughout his life, exemplified by his passion for hunting and fishing. His mother recognized the need to civilize the nativist young boy, and so they returned to Bowling Green, Ohio, where he spent his high school years. His father died of heart disease at the age of 42, leaving Hal’s mother with three children to raise.

After the family moved back to Bowling Green, the academic environment provided by Bowling Green University had a significant influence on Hal. Bowling Green also happened to be where the Cleveland Browns professional football team began their football season. Under the indirect influence of Paul Brown, the legendary coach of the Cleveland team, Hal became an outstanding football player, becoming an all-state selection in football in Ohio. He was recruited by several major college teams, however, his mother thought Princeton University was the best fit for her son, who was also an outstanding academic student.

Hal graduated from Princeton University, along with another Ohio football player, Dick Kazmaier, who was the last Heisman Trophy winner of an Ivy League school. Hal’s Princeton football career was successful, with an undefeated team his freshman and senior years (his Princeton football team was ranked #2 nationally in his senior year.) He went on to Harvard Medical School and trained in surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA. The most significant event of an eventful life was the “almost” chance opportunity to spend time with someone else’s date when he injured himself with a ski pole during a ski trip in New England. That other person’s date, Elizabeth Bradley (Betsey) was a Wellesley undergraduate, the daughter of two physicians; her mother was an internist, her father a Navy career physician who rose to the rank of Admiral in the Navy Medical Corps. Betsey was Hal’s anchor, to use a Navy term. She moderated his enthusiasm with exquisite diplomacy and good taste, became an important member of the Harvard University community, and was every bit as much of a national achiever as was her husband. Among all of these activities she became mother to five fantastic children, who, with their mother, survive Hal: Harold C. Urschel III, M.D. (wife Christi Carter Urschel), Bradley Van Fleet Urschel (wife Bonny Urschel), Sterling Locke Urschel, Amanda Elizabeth Goldstein (husband Robert Goldstein, M.D.), and Susanna McKinley Urschel. Hal and Betsey have 7 grandchildren: Everest Goldstein, Haley Urschel, Bear Goldstein, Rush Urschel, Chancellor Urschel, Carr Urschel, and Liam Walters. Hal’s sister in law, Virginia Byers Urschel, cousins Mary Beth and Louis Horvath, and many nieces and nephews also survive him. He was preceded in death by his parents, brother, William Powell Urschel and his sister Elizabeth Ann Urschel.

It is no easy task to sum up the life of this remarkable man, as it had so many different facets. In focusing on his brilliant surgical career, one is simultaneously reminded of his devotion to his family. When you remember the iconoclastic curmudgeon, you find yourself remembering, as well, the man of a thousand genuinely profound quotations. He was at one time or another, and sometimes all at once, aggressive, kind, caring, brutally honest, and diplomatic, but above all else, he was devoted to his family, his friends, his faith, and his profession.

He had enough energy for 100 surgeons. He and Betsey were tireless in their professional activities, and at the time of his death he was at the American Heart Association meeting in Los Angeles, where he was presenting material on his latest research interest: the use of stem cells for the treatment of heart failure. He was the past president of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the Southern Thoracic Surgical Association, the American College of Chest Physicians, and the Texas Surgical Association. He has been a Governor of the American College of Surgeons, Chairman of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, Chairman of the Residency Review Committee for Thoracic Surgery and a member of every important national and international medical and surgical society. His death leaves an empty place in the hearts of his family and friends, who will live on blessed by the warmth of their association with him.

Hal’s favorite quotation is that by Hippocrates inscribed on the wall of Building 5 at the Harvard Medical School: LIFE IS SHORT THE ART IS LONG THE OCCASION INSTANT THE EXPERIMENT PERILOUS AND THE DECISION DIFFICULT

A Memorial Service will be held at 4:00pm on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church, 9200 Inwood Road, Dallas, Texas 75220. A reception will be held after the service.

In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to a school scholarship fund set up for his youngest grandson, Liam Walters. Checks payable to Liam Walters Scholarship Fund, mailed to 4609 Harrys Lane, Dallas, Texas 75229.


  • Memorial Serivce Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Harold Clifton Urschel MD

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August 14, 2013

To Betsey and all your family, Carole and I extend sincere condolences to you on Hal's passing. He was a great mentor, teacher, thoracic surgical colleague and genuine friend to us both. We shall always have fond memories of him.
Sincere regards,
Maurice and Carole Pockey.

February 28, 2013

I am saddened in knowing this news 3 months late but I still want to convey our condolences . I have worked with Dr. Urschel and his team in Baylor a while back . I have great respect for him as a physician but more so as a family man and father through his son's eye. He was a remarkably unique person, prayers went up for the whole family.Telly and Emelda Valcarcel ( Grand Prairie , TX)

douglas kubek

December 11, 2012

Dr Urschel was my surgeon 4 years ago. I suffered an injury to my thoracic outlet waterskiing. The injury threatened my career as an otolaryngology facial plastic surgeon. After much research and prayers I decided to fly down to Dallas from Detroit, Michigan to be treated by the world expert for this serious condition. Dr Urschel spent many hours on the phone calming my fears and trepidations relating to my condition without formally examining my arm and vasculature. He made all the arrangements for my family to fly in for the surgery. He made reservations for us at his favorite restaurant, Steven Pyles. They treated us like royalty at Pyles restaurant when they found out Dr Urschel Sent us over. The operation was a complete success. Dr Urschel was a gifted surgeon, researcher, teacher and role model. He was also a kind and compassionate soul. When I entered his waiting room the only reading material on the coffee table was the Holy Bible. I knew then that God had sent me to the right doctor. You will be missed by me and my family will be forever grateful for your heart-felt care. Sincerely and with deepest sympathy, Douglas C Kubek DO FAOCO Henry Ford Hospital

Kristine Gagliardi

December 3, 2012

To the Urschel Family: My heart physically aches for your loss. But at the same time my heart smiles for Dr. Urschel only brought joy, laughter and smiles to those around him. I became immediately attached to Dr. Urschel as my "stand in Pop" having met him soon after losing my own - Dr. Urschel will forever live in my memories and in my heart. He was one of the most humble, loving, generous and kindest men I have ever had the pleasure to meet and call my friend. Hugs to you all.

John Adler

December 3, 2012

Ever gracious and generous with this time, Hal stayed intellectually curious and professionally relevant up until the end of his life. That is but one testament to a life well lived.

Mary Dollar

November 24, 2012

Dear Mrs. Urschel,
I am Bernice Sheffields youngest daughter. Our family is very saddened to hear of Dr. Urschel's passing. Your family was always very special to all of our family. May he rest in Gods perfect peace.

Jan Froese

November 23, 2012

I have fond memories while working for Dr Uschel,Dr Paulson,and Dr Razzuk for 20 years in the private office as their radiology tech. My thoughts and prayers to Betsey and family.

November 21, 2012

What a remarkable individual,my deepest condolences and best wishes for all of you,Elizabeth Weidmer-Mikhail,M.D

American Heart Association

November 21, 2012

May your memories of the wonderful times you shared with your loved one comfort you and your family, today and always.

November 20, 2012

Dear Betsy and family,
Hal was much admired by my late husband, Ervin R. Miller, M.D. I remember the early days they worked together to save lives and how exciting their progress was. Hal was such a warm, friendly and enthusiastic person, you could not help but like him. You two were such a handsome couple. My thoughts are with you and your family.
Justine Miller (Allen, TX)