History of C.J. Lyons Academy


The academy was founded in 1927 as the C. J. Lyons Club, a study club of sorts involving Chalmers J. Lyons and several of his residents who were scattered in private practice. The founding members of the club had all been trained by Dr. Lyons and had such great respect for his knowledge and surgical skill that they made great effort to return to Ann Arbor periodically to discuss problem cases with him and each other and to also assist Dr. Lyons and observe during operations. The specialty of oral surgery in those early days was not well defined and the individual private practitioners were certainly somewhat isolated and hungry for peer discussion. Travel in those days was no easy task but it was worth the effort to these founding members. According to the recollection of J. Orton Goodsell, Wednesdays were the usual operating days at University Hospital and those who could make the trip came to Ann Arbor to observe and assist at the side of their old professor. Then in the evening there would be a dinner and case discussion as well as occasional speakers. The meetings were usually held monthly at a hotel or the Michigan Union. The founding members of the C. J. Lyons Club, later to become the Chalmers J. Lyons Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, were:

George E. Anderson
William A. Cook
John W. Kemper
Philip M. Northrop
Homer Porritt
Bruce Cook
Olen H. McConnell
James A. Beavis
J. Orton Goodsell
Gordon R. Maitland
Fredrick F. Pfeiffer
Joseph Tolan
Bernard E. Luck
Haven Doane
Don H. Bellinger
Leroy F. Hill
Vernon H. Eman
Alfred L. Rehfield
Joseph D. Sullivan
Reed O. Dingman
The driving force behind the organization of this group was Dr. Bill Cook and he served as the president from the beginning, 1927, until 1935. Dr. Lyons had trained his first oral surgery intern at the University of Michigan Hospital in 1917 and continued training residents until his sudden death in 1935. The trainees had been returning to Ann Arbor for continuing education and moral support all through the 1920s and it was through the work of Dr. Cook that the official Chalmers J. Lyons Club was chartered and organized in 1927. Following the untimely death of Dr. Lyons in 1935, one of his trainees, Dr. John Kemper, left his position at the dental school and private practice to take over the University of Michigan oral surgery training duties. He served in this capacity until his own untimely death from an aortic aneurysm in 1952.
It was during these Kemper years that the academy expanded. Several of the members of the founding group were very successful practitioners in the Detroit area and of course they were some of the mainstays in the early meetings of the academy. One of the most active was Dr. Don Bellinger. He had been one of Dr. Lyons early trainees and subsequently established a practice in Detroit. In 1930 he became the chief of oral surgery at the new Henry Ford Hospital and after a few years he began to train his own residents. No one from outside of the University of Michigan training program under Dr. Lyons and Dr. Kemper had been invited to join the academy until 1937 when Dr. Bellinger's new residency program at Ford Hospital began finishing the training of some top notch students. In that year one of his first residents, Fred Henny, was invited to come along with Dr. Bellinger to the meetings. This was the very beginning of the branching "tree" of the academy and as will be seen, this has continued at a great pace. Several years later, in 1948, one of Dr. Kemper's residents, Herbert J. Bloom, started a residency training program along with his private practice in Detroit. This training program was carried on at Mt. Carmel hospital. Since Dr. Bloom was very active in the academy, and had been a part-time faculty member in the oral surgery department at the University of Michigan for several years, he encouraged his residents to also join and become involved in the academy. The Residency program was moved to Sinai Hospital when it was founded in 1953, but maintained the Mt. Carmel relationship as well.
At the University of Michigan, Dr. Kemper was succeeded after his unexpected death in 1952 by Dr. James Hayward. Dr. Hayward was chairman from 1952 until 1982 and trained a very large number of residents, over 80 in all. After his retirement in 1982 the directorship was passed to Ray Fonseca. It was at this time that a change in the by-laws was made so that Dr. Fonseca could be made a member of the Chalmers J. Lyons Academy and therefore keep the tradition going at the University of Michigan core program. The same procedure was used in 1990 when Dr. Fonseca moved on to become Dean at the University of Pennsylvania Dental School and was succeeded by Steve Feinberg as chairman of the University of Michigan oral maxillofacial surgery training program.
At Henry Ford, Dr. Bellinger retired in 1952 and was succeeded by Dr. Fred Henny, one of his first residents. Dr. Henny ran a world-renowned training program at Henry Ford until health problems and difficulty with the hospital administration forced him to leave that position in 1970. As had been true earlier from the University of Michigan, and would become the case with Sinai hospital later, many of the residents trained under Dr. Henny during those years scattered around the United States and Canada and became chairmen of their own training programs, thereby extending the branches of the Chalmers J. Lyons academy "tree" in pretty much every corner of the country. As was intended in the by-laws of the academy the residents trained by these descendants also became eligible for membership and indeed also eligible to pass on membership to their trainees. As you can see, by this time we are into the third generation of oral maxillofacial surgery teachers in the Chalmers Lyons tradition.
Regrettably the Ford Hospital residency left the CJLA fold after Dr. Henny's departure and one leg of the three legged core make-up of the academy was thereby lost for a period of years. Happily, in 1998, Scott Boyd was enticed back to his home town of Detroit after training under Robert Walker and Bruce Epker at Parkland Hospital in Texas to become the new chairman. The academy by-laws were again amended in 1995 to allow for full membership of Dr. Boyd and any succeeding directors at Henry Ford or Sinai hospital upon a vote by the academy membership and thereby keep the traditional three core programs active in the academy.
At Sinai hospital, Dr. Bloom continued training residents along with running his private practice in Detroit until 1972 when he retired and was replaced by one of his own residents, John Helfrick. Dr. Helfrick continued at Sinai until 1984 at which time he moved on to the University of Texas at Houston as chairman and passed the baton at Sinai hospital to Lewis Clayman, a graduate of the Sinai program under Dr.'s Bloom, Henry, and Helfrick.
Because of the strong tradition of teaching passed down from Dr. Lyons and those founding club members, there have been approximately 25 accredited training programs through the years headed by academy members. About 10 training programs are actively graduating oral and maxillofacial surgery residents (and future academy members) at present.
The sole purpose of the C. J. Lyons Academy, the gathering together of enthusiastic practitioners for sharing knowledge, spirited discussion, and listening to expert speakers is just as alive today as it was in 1927. May it always be so.
--Much of this summary was condensed from the wonderful booklet authored by James Hayward and Irwin Small in 1992, "Our heritage-the History of the C. J. Lyons Academy."