George W. Holcomb Jr.

June 19, 1922June 29, 2019

Dr. George W. Holcomb, Jr., -- a Nashville pediatric surgeon for 35 years – died Saturday, June 29. During his career, Dr. Holcomb operated on thousands of children living in Middle Tennessee. He was 97 years old.

Dr. Holcomb graduated from Vanderbilt University’s Medical School in 1946 and completed specialized training in pediatric surgery in 1952 at Boston Children’s Hospital, which is adjacent to its teaching institution Harvard Medical School. During the Korean War, he was Chief of Thoracic Surgery and Assistant Chief of General Surgery at the Osaka General Hospital in Japan, where he and his team operated on severely wounded American soldiers. For his meritorious service there, Dr. Holcomb was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.

In 1954, Dr. Holcomb became the first pediatric surgeon in Middle Tennessee, and for nearly 20 years, was the region’s only pediatric surgeon. He treated patients from both inside and outside the state, ranging from underweight newborns to teenagers. For 25 years, Dr. Holcomb was an editorial consultant for the Journal of Pediatric Surgery and had numerous articles published in this international journal to benefit surgeons worldwide. The annual Holcomb Lectureship in Pediatric Surgery was established in his honor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 1990.

Dr. Holcomb was not only a pioneer in children’s medicine in Tennessee, he also assumed leadership roles both in and out of the medical field. He served as President of the Nashville Academy of Medicine, the Tennessee Medical Association, the Nashville Surgical Society, and the Vanderbilt Medical Alumni Association. He was a charter member of the American Pediatric Surgical Association and was elected to their Board of Governors in 1975. Dr. Holcomb was a member of the British Association of Pediatric Surgeons, the American College of Surgeons, and the Southern Surgical Association.

Locally, Dr. Holcomb served on the Board of Directors of the Harpeth Hall School and the United Way Fund. He was an advisory board member for the Nashville Junior League.

After retiring from medicine in 1989, Dr. Holcomb served as the Executive Director of Medical Alumni Affairs for Vanderbilt Medical School from 1993-2003.

Dr. Holcomb was preceded in death by his wife of 53 years, Alice. He is survived by a son, Dr. George W. Holcomb III of Prairie Village, KS (Karen Duvier) and a daughter, Virginia B. Holcomb of Mount Pleasant, SC; three grandchildren, Jennifer L. Holcomb, George W. Holcomb IV, and James E. Holcomb; and four nieces.

A memorial service will be conducted at 3 p.m., Monday, July 8, at West End United Methodist Church, followed by visitation from 3:30-5 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be sent to the Vanderbilt Medical Scholarship Fund, West End United Methodist Church or to a charity of the donor’s choice.


  • Memorial Service Monday, July 8, 2019
  • Visitation Monday, July 8, 2019


George W. Holcomb Jr.

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