Dr. Erle Peacock Jr., founder of the UNC Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the UNC Hand Rehabilitation Center, passed away October 25, 2012, at his home. A native of Chapel Hill, Dr. Peacock graduated from UNC, Harvard Medical School and the UNC School of Law. After serving in the Navy in World War II, Dr Peacock served in the Korean War, specializing in Hand Surgery at the Valley Forge Army Hospital. Dr Peacock returned to Chapel Hill and founded the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in 1960, shortly after the UNC Hospital opened, after seeing the need for an academic Division of Plastic Surgery. The initial strength of the Division was in the areas of burns and surgery of the hand, and a broadly-based Plastic Surgery training program was created.
Initially the actual Division of Plastic Surgery was created within the framework of the Department of Surgery. A residency training program and a laboratory were established, with many of the early residents supported through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. The laboratory became known internationally in basic wound healing research. The Hand Rehabilitation Center opened in 1962, at 500 Pittsboro Street, conceived by Dr. Peacock as a central system for management of a wide variety of hand conditions, bringing hand surgery into the modern era. Dr. Peacock was also instrumental in the creation of a dedicated burn center, later to become the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center.
In 1968 Dr. Peacock joined the University of Arizona as the founding Chair of the Department of Surgery and Chief of Surgery at the new affiliated hospital. Before returning to Chapel Hill and private practice in 1982, Dr. Peacock practiced surgery at Tulane University. He retired from surgical practice in 1993 and subsequently practiced Health Care Law in Raleigh and then Chapel Hill.
Dr. Peacock held leadership positions in many professional organizations and served as President of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the Plastic Surgery Research Council and the Womack Surgical Society. He was a member of the American College of Legal Medicine, and served as a consultant to the US Army Research and Development Office of Medical Examiners. Dr. Peacock was on the editorial boards of five journals of surgery and in addition to authoring numerous publications in scientific texts and journals, authored a surgical textbook, "Wound Repair", and co-authored a book titled "The Scientific Management of Surgical Patients". Among his numerous awards and distinctions, he received the ASPS "Clinician of the Year" Award in 1985 and in 2001 was the recipient of the Special Achievement Award from the Southeastern Society of Plastic Surgery (SESPRS).As a past President of the Plastic Surgery Research Council, his contributions to academic plastic surgery cannot be overstated.
Dr. Peacock is recognized nationally and internationally as one of the giants in plastic surgery of the 20th century, but is also known as a wise professor who gave amazing personal, professional, and clinical advice.
- Arica Maya Hay, UNC Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery