Engineer, surgeon, health care advocate, entre- preneur—Earl Hugh Mayne, MD, FACS, could only dream of earning these titles as a young
boy growing up on a small farm near Mason City,
IA. He eventually attained these professional goals
through hard work, education, and business acumen.
But one of Dr. Mayne’s most striking achievements
was in philanthropy—he established the Mayne Educational Fund in 1944, thus becoming the first Fellow
to provide a legacy gift for the educational mission of
the American College of Surgeons (ACS).
Born on October 19, 1866, Dr. Mayne was the
youngest of eight children. According to the Mayne
Educational Fund archives, it was “in a sturdy home
atmosphere of a large family and an efficiently run
farm that Dr. Mayne learned the value of industry,
self-reliance, and self-respect.” He also had the good
fortune in his formative high school years to come
under the influence of Carrie Lane, the young principal of the Mason City High School, who encouraged
Dr. Mayne to continue his academic pursuits beyond
high school. Ms. Lane, better known as Carrie Chapman Catt, eventually became a familiar leader in the
American women’s suffrage movement.
With money he earned by raising cattle and with a
county scholarship, Dr. Mayne completed civil engineering courses at the University of Iowa, Iowa City.
As an undergraduate student, he waited tables and
cut cordwood for professors to pay the wages of a
hired man who took his place on the family farm.
Although his primary studies were in engineering,
Dr. Mayne began adding elective classes in medicine
and observing operations. A few fainting spells in his
early viewings of surgery did not diminish his new-found passion to become a surgeon.
Using his training in civil engineering, Dr. Mayne
worked as a bridge builder along the Ohio River to
save enough money to attend medical school, intent
on becoming a practicing surgeon. Along the way,
he met the vivacious Isabella “Maud” Rittenhouse of
Cairo, IL, whose lively journals kept from her girlhood through marriage were published in 1939 and
became a bestselling book, Maud. They later married
and had three daughters. Mrs. Mayne was an accomplished artist, graduating from the St. Louis School of
Fine Art, Washington University, MO, in 1887.
Dr. Mayne earned enough money to study at the
Bellevue Hospital Medical College, New York, NY,
where he completed his course work in the spring
of 1893. After a trip abroad to Italy and other parts
of Europe, Dr. Mayne hung his physician’s shingle
in Bath Beach, a suburb of Brooklyn, NY, and had
his first patient call in April 1894. In a letter to Maud
later that year, he wrote that his practice income had
grown to $484 per month and that he was “making
as many as 26 patient visits per day, barely sleep-ing.”* His practice soon expanded, and he went from
making his rounds on a bicycle to a steam-powered
Locomobile that he purchased in 1902.
In 1915, Dr. Mayne was admitted to the ACS as
a charter member and was later elected to serve on
its Board of Governors. Throughout his career, Dr.
Mayne campaigned for health care advances, often
ignoring prejudices against modern medicine. For
example, he was a pioneer in the use of diphtheria
antitoxin during a time that the disease had a 40 percent mortality rate.
Dr. and Mrs. Mayne also gave back to the community in their adopted home state of New York.
He was a founder of the Bay Ridge Hospital and for
many years was the president of the institution’s
board of directors, as well as president of the Bay
Ridge Medical Society. He had many interests in real
estate and was a director of the Atlantic Gulf and *Rittenhouse IM. Maud. Strout RL, ed. New York, N Y: The Macmillian
Company; 1939. continued on page 21