On November 9, a memorial service was held to celebrate the legacy of Dr. William T. Shearer, an internationally respected leader, clinician, investigator and mentor in pediatric immunology and HIV/AIDS.
More than 100 attendees – including members of Shearer’s family and several of his trainees and colleagues who worked with him for many years – shared memories of Shearer, who was the founder and former chief of the Allergy and Immunology Service at Texas Children’s Hospital for 34 years and a professor of Pediatrics and Immunology at Baylor College of Medicine for 40 years.
For many who knew him, Shearer was described by his colleagues as an incredibly compassionate mentor. Throughout his career, he mentored 117 trainees as the Program Director of the Allergy and Immunology Fellowship Training Program at Texas Children’s and Baylor College of Medicine.
One of his trainees was Dr. Carla Davis, chief of Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology Service at Texas Children’s, who met Shearer as a pediatric resident. After attending a program he founded – Texas Allergy Asthma and Immunology Society’s Primary Care Residence Conference – her interest in the field began.
“As a resident, I was captivated by his unique blue coat, his enthusiasm for patients, and the field of immunology,” said Davis, who delivered the opening remarks at the ceremony. “I was fascinated by his teaching ability and the fact that he thought I would be a great allergist immunologist. I am honored to carry on the legacy.”
Texas Children’s Physician-in-Chief Dr. Mark W. Kline also shared memorable and humorous anecdotes of Shearer. On one rare occasion, he recalled dropping by the office on a Sunday morning, and saw Shearer dressed up in his suit and tie, either working on a grant or writing textbook chapters for the world’s premier textbook of clinical immunology for which he was co-editor for over 20 years. It wasn’t long after they met that Shearer told him, “I’m here in the office 364 days each year. I usually take Christmas day off.”
“No one worked harder or was more dedicated to his patients and trainees than Dr. Shearer,” Kline said. “His passion was always around making life better for the patients and the families that he served. I learned an enormous amount from him during the formative stages of my career development. He was a mentor and friend for nearly 30 years, and I will miss him tremendously.”
Shearer’s illustrious career became widely known when he assumed the role as the primary physician for Texas Children’s most famous patient, David “The Bubble Boy” Vetter, which led to revolutionary immunologic discoveries. His mother, Carol Ann Demaret, delivered a heartfelt tribute to Shearer.
“Many families such as mine who have been so intensely affected by the science he dedicated his life’s work to will never forget Dr. Shearer,” Demaret said. “Lives exist because of him, and a whole world of happiness. I know, because I have embraced many of the children and young adults myself. Dr. Shearer, we will keep and protect your memories forever in our hearts and in our souls.”
Guest speakers who delivered touching tributes to Shearer included Drs. Tom Fleisher, Morey Haymond, Celine Hanson, Jennifer Pate and Kristy Murray.
After the memorial service, guests attended a reception where pictures, awards and memorabilia with Shearer were displayed including a booklet that contained many tributes his colleagues and trainees had written to him over the years. Following the reception, a ribbon cutting and tour officially opened the William T. Shearer Center for Human Immunobiology located on the third floor of Feigin Tower.
Click here to watch a video tribute of Shearer in his own words.