American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Marion Rapp (1920-2011)

Marion Rapp was one of the most loyal and longest-serving staff members in the American College of Surgeons’ (ACS) history, and played an integral role in shaping the College during the second half of the 20th century. Born in 1920, she joined the ACS in January 1953 as personal assistant to then College Director, Gen. Paul R. Hawley, MD, FACS(Hon), an innovative leader and a man Ms. Rapp deeply admired.1 Under Gen. Hawley, Ms. Rapp had many responsibilities, including organizing his schedule and liaising with members of the College. One of her favorite responsibilities was to organize the food menu, as well as seating arrangements for all College parties and meetings.2 This was a task Ms. Rapp thoroughly enjoyed and took pride in, making sure the menu was kept simple and taking great care to make sure the seating arrangements were meticulously organized.3

Marion Rapp at the 1956 Clinical Congress.

After Gen. Hawley retired in 1961, Ms. Rapp held several positions of increasing responsibility at the College, primarily in the Fellowship Department, reorganized as the Division of Member Services in 2002. Most notably she was the College’s International Liaison, serving thousands of International Fellows, Honorary Fellows, and guest surgeons. When Gen. Hawley died in 1965, he bequeathed his estate to the College. This allowed the College to set up the International Guest Scholarships program in 1968, aimed to help young surgeons from other countries outside the U.S. and Canada.4 Ms. Rapp was vital to establishing the program, and responsible for the continued success of the program for the following three decades she worked at the College. She wanted to continue Gen. Hawley’s legacy of helping young surgeons, and felt he would be “overjoyed” helping young international surgeons “because he had an absolute passion” for young surgeons.5 As a result, for many international ACS members and Fellows, Ms. Rapp was the face and life of the College.

Marion Rapp with International Guest Scholar Nobuyasu Kano, MD, PhD, FACS at Clinical Congress 1993.

Marion Rapp retired in 1999 after 46 years with the College. She was a constant presence for international members and Fellows, as well as College staff throughout the second half of the 20th century. As of 2020 there have been International Guest Scholars from more than 70 countries,6 largely due to the work of Ms. Rapp and the legacy she left behind. Her loyalty to the College was undisputed, and she was one of the very few College staff to have worked at three ACS headquarters buildings. Upon her retirement she was presented with a book of letters giving compliments and best wishes from surgeons all over the world who had worked with or met her during her time at the College. All the letters have one thing in common—the admiration for Ms. Rapp’s kindness, elegance, and willingness to go above and beyond to help and ensure that every single international surgeon was cared for and honored.  

Marion Rapp was interviewed by C. Rollins Hanlon, MD, FACS, in February 2001 and June 2002 for the College’s oral history program. These interviews are available in the Archives Catalog at the following links:

February 2001 interview (transcript only)

June 2002 interview

References

  1. Bulletin, Volume 46, Number 1, p20
  2. Marion E. Rapp Oral History Interview transcript, P 2, ACS Archives
  3. Marion E. Rapp Oral History Interview transcript, P 3, ACS Archives
  4. International Guest Scholarship Awards, https://www.facs.org/member-services/scholarships/international/igs/igsaward
  5. Marion E. Rapp Oral History Interview transcript, P 10, ACS Archives
  6. International Guest Scholarship Awards, https://www.facs.org/member-services/scholarships/international/igs/igsaward