MUSC Medical Links Charleston Links Archives Medical Educator Speakers Bureau Seminars and Events Research Studies Research Grants Catalyst PDF File Community Happenings Campus News

Return to Main Menu

Path, Lab Med loses dedicated scientist

by Cindy Abole
Public Relations
Samuel S. Spicer, M.D., Professor Emeritus, and a faculty member with more than 40 years of devoted service to MUSC and the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, passed away Aug. 18. He was 94.
Dr. Samuel Spicer

Spicer was born Aug. 12, 1914, in Denver, Colo., and was the son of the late Samuel Sherman Spicer, Sr., and Eleanor Kirk Spicer. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Colorado and completed his internship at the University of Wisconsin General Hospital. In 1940, he was commissioned as an assistant surgeon in the United States Public Health Service and retired as medical director in 1966. He had a successful 23-year career at the National Institutes of Health where he ultimately served as chief of the Section of Biophysical Histology in the Laboratory of Experimental Pathology.
A dedicated researcher, educator and mentor, Spicer began his career at MUSC in 1966 and worked in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Spicer was internationally known for his research work in carbohydrate chemistry and histochemistry, along with his research interests in cystic fibrosis, various types of cancers and age-related hearing loss. He wrote and published more than 460 original research papers, book chapters and review articles in a career spanning 65 years. He was a leader in the MUSC faculty senate and mentored dozens of scientists and foreign researchers from around the world.
Spicer was presented with an honorary medical degree from the University of Linkoping in Linkoping, Sweden in 1977 and a Japanese Society for Promotion of Science award in 1982. He was an early member of the Histochemical Society and served as president from 1982 to 1984. In May 1998, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from the university during its 169th commencement ceremony.
In 2002, he established the Medical University Women’s Club Annual Scholarship in memory of his wife, Trude, a founding member, to support need-based scholarships to students in each of MUSC’s six colleges.
He is survived by his children, Kenneth M. Spicer, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine, Department of Radiology, and wife, Patricia, of Sullivan’s Island; Eleanor Spicer, Ph.D., professor and vice chairman, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; and husband, Adrian Reuben, M.D., professor of medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and director of liver studies, of Mount Pleasant; and Samuel S. Spicer III, M.D., vice president of medical affairs, New Hanover Medical Center, and wife, Jane, of Wilmington, N.C., and other family.
A memorial service and private burial was conducted Aug. 20 in Mount Pleasant.  Memorials may be made to the MUSC Foundation, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, P.O. Box 250450, Charleston, SC, 29425.

In 1964 I was a medical student interested in pathology. I went to Sam Spicer’s first scientific presentation at our institution. He was considering a position here, and spoke on carbohydrate and mucin histochemistry in the amphitheater. I was too inexperienced to know what I was hearing, but Prof. Forde McIver, seated next to me, was greatly excited, saying it was the most fascinating presentation he’d ever attended.  It took me some years to appreciate what he meant, but over the next several decades, I learned that Sam was an institutional treasure, that I could save hours of library work by simply asking Sam. With his passing, I feel as if a great library has burned down. But that was the scientist/mentor; the real treasure was the man.
—Russell Harley, M.D., professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Dr. Spicer was a role model to us all. He was a loving father, dedicated mentor and superb scientist. While Dr. Spicer pursued an ambitious scientific career, always working hard (normally over 12 hours a day even into his late eighties), in the evenings and on weekends, he never neglected his family. He was devoted to MUSC. Even as he grew older he continued to walk up the six flights of stairs to his office in Walton Research Building, never complaining about the infirmities of age. He was always cheerful, happy, and above-all, considerate. Having the chance to meet and work with such an individual is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine has established a Samuel S. Spicer, Jr. MD Endowed Lectureship Fund in the Health Sciences Foundation to honor Dr. Spicer. Proceeds from the Fund will be used to support an invited professor to deliver a scientific lecture on a topic Dr. Spicer would have enjoyed.     
—Janice M. Lage, M.D., professor and chair, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Sam Spicer was a highly respected faculty member here for many years, but equally important, he was a loving husband, father and friend. He was a wonderful human being and was a role model for many who followed in his footsteps, including his children who continued the family tradition as faculty members here at MUSC.
—Ray Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D., MUSC president

Dr. Spicer was a wonderful person. He was always ready to share advice. He possessed a tremendous knowledge base, especially in the area of diabetes and carbohydrate metabolism. He was always very supportive to me and other researchers with our work.
—Maria G. Buse, M.D., Distinguished University Professor, Department of Medicine and Biochemistry

Dr. Spicer was among the most dedicated members of MUSC’s faculty to serve our institution. He focused on the governance of the university and providing everything that was good and right for our students, faculty and staff. Our university has benefited greatly from his wise counsel and friendship over the years.
—James B. Edwards, DMD, MUSC President Emeritus

Friday, Aug. 29, 2008
Catalyst Online is published weekly, updated as needed and improved from time to time by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.