In Memoriam

Dr. Judson Graves Randolph


Obituary provided by Drs. Mary Fallat and Kurt Newman

Dr. Judson Randolph died on May 17, 2015. He served as APSA President from 1984 - 1985.

BORN July 19, 1927, in Macon, Georgia; died May 17, 2015, at home in Nashville, Tennessee.
Dr. Randolph grew up in Nashville, where he attended Hillsboro High School and was an Eagle Scout. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1945-1946 aboard the USS Alabama. He returned to Nashville, where he graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1950 and from Vanderbilt Medical School in 1953. Dr. Randolph’s wife of nearly 50 years, Comfort Adams Randolph, died in 2001. Dr. Randolph is survived by his five children: Somers of Santa Fe; Garrett of Belfast, Maine; Judson Jr. (Catherine) of Seattle; Adam of Sewanee; and Comfort (Bradford Belbas) of Edina, Minnesota.  He is survived by eight grandchildren.

In his professional life, Dr. Randolph trained in general surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He trained in pediatric surgery at the Boston Children’s Hospital under the tutelage of Dr. Robert Gross, whom he considered an esteemed mentor.  He remained in Boston on the faculty of Harvard Medical School at Boston Children’s until he accepted the position as Surgeon-In-Chief of the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington D.C., a post he held for nearly 30 years.  He was the first full time surgeon for children in Washington, DC and achieved the rank of Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics at George Washington University. Dr. Randolph was adored by his patients and families and played an active role in the care of complicated patients until well into their adulthood. He was one of the first pediatric surgeons who focused on children’s burn care and was a leader in the advancement of surgical care of children with cancer. He was also well known for his creativity in the care of children with complex anomalies. He published widely, educated wisely, acknowledged failures along with accomplishments, and ignored the typewriter in favor of characteristic handwritten notes that became one of his trademarks.
Dr. Randolph provided significant leadership in developing the specialty of pediatric surgery in America. Along with Dr. William Clatworthy, who chaired a newly formed education committee within the Surgical Section of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Randolph was instrumental in establishing the requirements for the two-year training program in Pediatric Surgery for the United States and Canada in the late 1960’s. At the time, there were 12 programs in North America training pediatric surgeons and his program became the thirteenth when he recruited John Lilly to come to Washington to train. He was on the committee that successfully approached the American Board of Surgery to obtain specialty board certification, resulting in the certificate of special competence in Pediatric Surgery. He was the first pediatric surgeon to represent the specialty as a director on the American Board of Surgery. He, along with Drs. Harvey Beardmore and Marc Rowe, developed the first written examination in Pediatric Surgery.

While in Washington Dr. Randolph served as president of the Washington Academy of Surgery, chairman of the Surgical Section of the American Academy of Pediatrics and President of the American Pediatric Surgical Association.  He was also a member of the American and Southern Surgical Associations and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He was awarded the Ladd Gold Medal by the American Academy of Pediatrics for his surgical service to children and the distinguished graduate Medal by Vanderbilt Medical School. It was a source of great satisfaction to Dr. Randolph that he trained over 40 of the finest surgeons in Pediatric Surgery who have practiced their specialty throughout this country and abroad, and many of whom have become Chiefs and Training Program Directors.

Dr. Randolph was a member of the Board of Trust of Vanderbilt University from 1981 to 2004, at which time he became an Emeritus Board Member.  He was a member of Leadership Nashville, and in 2007 he was elected to the Nashville Public Schools Hall of Fame.

There will be two memorial services for Dr. Randolph. The first will be held on July 25 in his hometown of Nashville. The second will be held later in Washington, D.C. to celebrate his personal and professional life there for 30 years. In lieu of flowers, family suggest memorial gifts to the Judson G. Randolph Fellowship in Pediatric Surgery at Children’s National, which can be mailed to Children’s Hospital Foundation, 801 Roeder Rd Suite #300. Silver Spring, MD 20910 or online at

For a wonderful overview of his illustrious career, read the transcript of an interview of Dr. Randolph by Dr. Kurt Newman for the Pediatric History Center, American Academy of Pediatrics.

This poem, written by Dr. Randolph's son Garrett Randolph, is a tribute to his father. It was read by Dr. Mary Fallat during the APSA 2016 Annual Meeting. Posted with permission of the author.