AAOS Bulletin - June, 2005

William W. Tipton Jr., MD: Educator and leader

    William W. Tipton Jr., MD, who served the AAOS as both a volunteer and as executive vice president and later executive director of medical affairs, died on May 19, 2005. Dr. Tipton was known and respected not only in the orthopaedic community, but also in the larger health care arena for his untiring efforts to build coalitions and effect change.

    A renowned orthopaedic surgeon and educator, Dr. Tipton maintained a general private practice in Sacramento, Calif., for 25 years and also served as associate clinical professor at the University of California-Davis, department of orthopaedic surgery, before moving to Chicago in 1994 to assume the chief staff position with the AAOS.

During his 10 years at the Academy’s helm, Dr. Tipton helped build a responsive, diverse and expansive organization.

Before assuming that leadership role, he had completed many years of service as a volunteer, with the Academy and other medical organizations. He served as the Academy’s alternate delegate to the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates from 1989 to 1991. He also served as president of both the Western Orthopaedic Association and the California Orthopaedic Association.

He was active on the Board of Councilors and served as its chairman during 1991 and 1992. He also served on both the Resolutions Committee and the Committee on Health Care Financing and was a member of the AAOS Board of Directors from 1990 to 1992. Dr. Tipton stepped down as chairman of the Council on Health Policy and Practice to assume the position of executive vice president of the Academy.

Under his leadership, the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons was established, as well as the Corporate Advisory Council and numerous research (Unified Research Agenda, Research Lobby Day), education (Council on Academic Affairs, Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery, Orthopaedics Knowledge Online) and public outreach campaigns (playground build, “Sign Your Site” program, Your Orthopaedic Connection). A veteran of the Vietnam War, Dr. Tipton was the driving force behind the Legacy of Heroes project, which recognizes the accomplishments of orthopaedists in World War II.

Dr. Tipton also was responsible for developing an innovative working relationship between the AAOS and the Hyatt Corp. that resulted in the building of the Hyatt Rosemont right next door to the Academy’s offices.

He was the recipient of the first California Orthopaedic Association Founders Award, as well as numerous other honors, including an honorary membership award from the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses and the Alumni Achievement Citation from Creighton University, Omaha, Neb., for “distinguished service to his profession and humankind.”

When he retired in 2004, Dr. Tipton recalled, “My greatest professional satisfaction has come from helping people. I had the wisdom to pick orthopaedics as a career. I’m lucky that I married my best friend and that we have marvelous kids. I am mindful of how lucky I have been to have served the AAOS members, their patients and the staff.”

Those who knew him also felt lucky. Robert D. D’Ambrosia, MD, AAOS 1999-2000 president, remembered him as “a very special human being with a passion for accentuating the positive and always looking for the best in everyone around him. His enthusiasm for life was infectious and drew people to him. He brought those qualities to the AAOS and that is the enduring legacy he left behind.”

Dr. Tipton is survived by his wife, Pat, his three children and two sisters.

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