AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Harry Clay McDade, 1924-1997



A member of the American Alpine Club since 1965, Harry distinguished himself not so much by his alpinism, though he got around into a variety of mountain areas, but by the vigorous adherence to the Hippocratic Oath that he took with him wherever he went. Harry was bom in Philadelphia and matriculated at the University of Pennsylvania and its Hahnemann Medical School. After a hitch in the U.S. Navy, he settled in to New Hampshire’s North Country with a surgical residency at Mary Hitchcock Hospital in Hanover. In 1959, Harry joined the staff of the Littleton Regional Hospital, where he served for 26 years as Chief of Surgery. He was president of the Grafton County Medical Society and then that of the New Hampshire Medical Society before starting a six-year term as governor of the American College of Surgeons in 1987. Harry was widely honored by his peers in the medical field, receiving the Nathan Smith Award from the New England Surgical Society. But, for all his skill, Harry was unable to conquer the cancer that killed him after a long illness.

Recipient of the American Alpine Club’s Sowles Award in 1992, Harry was beloved by a generation of mountain rescuers in the state of New Hampshire, starting with the undersigned and continuing almost until his death. He also got away from the North Country to make a new route on Mt. Foraker and a first ascent of Pacaraju. But it was his constant availability to the fish cops (game wardens) who had charge of all search and rescue operations in the state that won him the most admirers. Whenever there was a person lost in the hills of the Granite State, the first person to be alerted for potential need was Harry McDade. So much was this the case that he was made an honorary member of the Conservation Law Enforcement Division.

Harry was a man for all seasons, including among his non-mountaineering interests ornithology, ham radio, astronomy, and flying his own plane. Harry was also an active participant, almost from the start, in the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Leadership Training Program, one of that organization’s most valuable services to the public. The world, but particularly New Hampshire’s mountain country, is a better place because of Dr. Harry McDade, who died on October 13. Harry was survived by his wife, Connie, and two children, one of whom is also a medical practitioner.

William L. Putnam