SGO Founding Member and Past President, Paul B. Underwood, Jr., MD, Dies at Age 86
The Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) regrets to announce the death of SGO founding member and Past President Paul Benjamin Underwood Jr., MD, of Johns Island, SC, who passed away peacefully on Nov. 4, 2020, at the age of 86.
According to his official obituary, Dr. Underwood was born on Aug. 8, 1934. He attended Furman University and earned his medical degree at the Medical College of South Carolina, now known as the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). He graduated from medical school in 1959, where he was a member of the medical honor society Alpha Omega Alpha.
Dr. Underwood completed an internship and then his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at MUSC, and he held a year-long position as a teaching fellow before leaving to serve in the U.S. Navy. He served in the Navy for two years at the Bethesda Naval Hospital, advancing to the rank of Lt. Commander. After he was honorably discharged from the Navy, Dr. Underwood completed a fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology at MD Anderson Hospital in Houston, and then returned to MUSC as one of the first certified oncologists in the State of South Carolina.
In 1979, he left Charleston to become the Chair of the OB/GYN Department at the University of Virginia, a position he held for 20 years until returning to Charleston. After a very brief retirement, he was convinced to rejoin the faculty at MUSC, and he served as a Professor, as the Associate Dean of Admissions and as the Chair of the MUSC Admissions Committee for almost 20 years. He officially retired in 2019 as one of the oldest practicing physicians at MUSC.
“Over 20 years ago I was delighted to know that Paul and (his wife) Peggy were returning to Charleston having resigned his chairmanship of 20 years at UVA. He and I talked about his returning to become a member of our department,” said SGO Past President William Creasman, MD. “Paul was true to his word in that his interests were seeing patients and teaching residents and students. He had his unique style that I am not sure anyone else could emulate although many tried.”
Dr. Underwood was one of 56 founding members of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists in 1969. He served as the President of the Society in 1983 – 1984. In addition to his contributions to SGO, Dr. Underwood was actively involved in numerous medical groups. He was the President of the American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society and the American Gynecological Club, and he chaired the Gynecologic Oncology Subcommittee of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Dr. Underwood was a member of the South Atlantic Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and he received that group’s Lifetime Achievement Award. For over 20 years he was an examiner for the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology in both the OB/GYN specialty and the Gynecologic Oncology sub-specialty. He was a founding member of THEGOS, an OB/GYN residents society at MUSC and he was a founding member and President of a similar group, the Felix Rutledge Society, at MD Anderson in Houston.
For his service as a physician, Dr. Underwood received a variety of awards, including the Distinguished Alumni Award from MUSC and the Order of the Palmetto from the State of South Carolina. He was honored to have the chapter of the Humanism Society at MUSC’s medical school named in his honor, as well as a fully-endowed faculty chair in his name in the OB/GYN Department at MUSC.
Dr. Underwood was predeceased by his wife, Peggy. He is survived by his children, Paul Benjamin Underwood, III (Kimberly), and Mary Underwood Muller (Doug); five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a Humanism in Medicine support fund at the MUSC for a newly established scholarship named in his honor. Checks should be made payable to “MUSC Foundation,” 18 Bee Street, MSC 450, Charleston, SC 29425, with a notation that the donation is designated for the Paul B. Underwood, M.D. Humanism Scholarship.
Due to COVID-19, a private service will be attended by immediate family only and a memorial service will be held at MUSC at a later date when social distancing restrictions are lifted.