The following information was gained through a personal interview with Dr. Norman conducted by Dr. Darlene Metter on January 5, 2005.
Dr Russ Norman was 1 of 25 charter members of the Southwestern Chapter of the Society of Nuclear Medicine (SWCSNM), formed in 1956. He was also the president of the SWCSNM in 1962 and 1963. As the second radiologist in San Antonio, he helped to shape the Radiology and Nuclear Medicine community to include the large medical center complex in northwest San Antonio. Dr Norman was also a pioneer in the early days of radiotherapy.
Dr Norman was born in Ava, Missouri. As a pharmacist, his father owned a drug store and his uncle was “the only good doctor in the little town of Ava, Missouri.”
Education and continuous self improvement began at an early age. Dr Norman entered school at the age of 4 years and modeled his career as a pharmacist (St Louis College of Pharmacy) and medical school after his father and uncle. He attended Missouri and Northwestern University. During WWII, Dr Norman served his country in Germany.
Chicago was too cold and after his training at Northwestern, the south became an attractive site. As the founder of the South Texas Radiology (STR) group in San Antonio, the second radiologist in the city (first radiologist was Dr Melton Davis) and through his contacts around the country, Dr Norman recruited his first partner by “hearsay,” flew to Chicago and after a 15 minute airport conversation convinced the Mayo clinic resident, Howard Brannon, to join him in San Antonio. STR remains one of the larger radiology groups in San Antonio (> 60 members).
Dr Norman also helped to develop the South Texas Medical Center. After the state allocated the land to develop a medical school and medical center complex, Dr Norman was instrumental and influential in the creation of this northwest venue to include the inaugural fund raising of $125,000 for the Cancer Therapy and Research Center.
As a physician, there were no formal training programs. Dr Norman taught and trained himself. Through networking and traveling across Texas and the country, physicians interested in radiotherapy would gather yearly to meet and discuss their various cancer treatment techniques. Since this group was the first of its kind, they were strongly encouraged by the federal government and manufacturers of equipment. The first meeting consisted of approximately 10 individuals (we’re not sure if this refers to the first SWCSNM or SNM meeting).
Due to his interest in x-ray and radiotherapy, Dr. Norman was considered a radiologist. He would travel to MD Anderson (Houston) on Fridays to learn about thyroid therapy. He would also fly to the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies (Missouri) and other major cities to learn about various radiotherapy techniques that were being used to treat tumors. The first Nuclear Medicine physicians were actually radiation oncologists with radioactive “radium needles.” The first radium therapy occurred at the Nix Hospital in San Antonio. Radium therapy included diseases such as skin and uterine cancers.