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Don Putney, Fox Chase Cancer Center Executive for 31 Years, Dies at 90

PHILADELPHIA (Feb. 4, 2005) -- H. Donald Putney, 90, of Flourtown, Pa., died of respiratory failure following pneumonia on Thursday, Feb. 3 at Chestnut Hill Hospital. A longtime resident of Erdenheim, Pa., Putney was senior vice president emeritus of Fox Chase Cancer Center, where he began his career in 1948. Previously he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and headed the contract section of the Office of Naval Research in New York City from 1946 to 1948.

Known to friends and colleagues as Don or "Put," Putney was administrative director of Fox Chase Cancer Center's Institute for Cancer Research until 1966, when he became associate director. He was named vice president and treasurer in 1974 and senior vice president of Fox Chase Cancer Center in 1977.

During this period, Putney was a consultant to the National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Research Resources and Centers. In this capacity, he helped establish the guidelines for NCI's cancer centers program. Fox Chase was among the first to be designated a comprehensive cancer center by NCI in 1974.

Putney was a member of the National Cancer Advisory Board's evaluation panel for comprehensive cancer centers. Serving on the Governor's Task Force on Cancer Control for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, he helped design the Pennsylvania Cancer Plan. He was also active in the Association of American Cancer Institutes and wrote a number of articles and publications on the organization and administration of cancer centers.

"Don Putney was one of the deans of cancer center administration," said Fox Chase executive vice president R. Donald Leedy, who worked closely with Putney in the 1970s.

Longtime Fox Chase colleague Francis J. McKay, who had succeeded Putney as administrative and then executive vice president in 1979, describes him as "a leader and a mentor to many in the field. He was a genial, very sociable man who always had a smile and a kind word for everyone."

In addition to his role at Fox Chase, Putney was a consultant for a long list of university hospitals and medical centers, ranging from the Illinois Cancer Council, the Edward Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Thomas Jefferson University School of Medicine's department of radiology. After retiring from his full-time role at Fox Chase in 1979, Putney worked as a part-time consultant at The Wistar Institute, serving as executive assistant to the director from 1980 to 1990.

Putney also found time for civic service, church activities and hobbies. From 1959 to 1981, he chaired the Springfield Township Police Civil Service Commission. At Grace Epiphany Episcopal Church of Mt. Airy, he was a member of the vestry from 1963 to 1973. He belonged to the University Glee Club of Philadelphia from 1956 to 1983. He was also an avid golfer and longtime member of the Philadelphia Cricket Club.

Born in Topeka, Kansas, on Oct. 26, 1914, Don Putney earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Kansas School of Business Administration and Finance in 1937. After working as a sales representative for Ralston-Purina Mills in St. Louis, Mo., he received a commission as lieutenant commander in the Navy and served on active duty from 1942 to 1946 in the Caribbean and North Pacific and in the applied physics laboratory of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Putney and the former Dorothy Stone Berryman of Philadelphia were married for more than 50 years. She died in 1994 and their daughter, Barbara V. Martin, died in 2004. Surviving are a granddaughter, Leah Casper, and sister, Annabel E. Mullen.

Interment will be private. A memorial service will take place Saturday, Feb. 19 at 11 a.m. at Grace Epiphany Episcopal Church of Mt. Airy, Gowen Avenue and Ardleigh Street. Mr. Putney requested that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be sent to Fox Chase Cancer Center, 333 Cottman Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19111.


Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

Media inquiries only, please contact Diana Quattrone at 215-728-7784.

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