American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

M. Beckett Howorth, 1900-1986

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1988


By the death of M. Beckett Howorth the American Alpine Club has lost one of its most distinguished members. Although Dr. Howorth spent most of his life in the New York area, he was bom in West Point, Mississippi and spent his boyhood there, graduating from the University of Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in 1921 and then attending that university’s two-year medical school before going to Washington University in St. Louis, where he obtained his M.D. in 1925. He served his internship at the Presbyterian Hospital in New York, and from then on his career was centered around that area. His medical interest, concentrated early on orthopedics, starting as a resident at the Orthopedic Hospital in New York and later serving as orthopedic surgeon there and at other well known New York hospitals. His teaching was mainly at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and its nursing school. He lectured on his specialty in many countries and was an honorary or corresponding member of many foreign orthopedic societies.

Dr. Howorth had an early love for the outdoors and trail walking. In 1943 he joined the Appalachian Mountain Club and showed great interest in rock climbing and later in white-water canoeing. I climbed with him on some of the local New York rock climbs. In 1936 he joined a group of us in the Wind River and Teton Mountains of Wyoming, his first experience in mountaineering. He did some extremely good climbs that year, including the north face of the Grand Teton, and every year from then on with few exceptions he spent his vacations climbing in the mountains of North America and Europe.

He was a prolific writer, both in orthopedics, where his Textbook of Orthopedics became the standard text in many medical schools, and in mountaineering on which he published many articles. After his marriage to Marjorie Meehan in 1946, she accompanied him on many of his mountain trips. His generosity was shown on his establishment of the M. Beckett Howorth Orthopedic Library, the Marjorie M. Howorth Education Fund and the endowment of the M. Beckett Howorth Chair in Orthopedics at the University of Mississippi, where he spent the last five years of his life until his death at his home in Jackson, Mississippi on July 16, 1986.

Kenneth A. Henderson

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