Brilliant, World Famous Scientist Had Lived Here Since He Was 18
Dr. Frederick George Novy, pioneer American bacteriologist and for years the University's most outstanding name in medicine, died yesterday afternoon at his home, 721 Forest Ave. He was 92.
The son of a Czechoslovakian master tailor, Frederick Novy came to Ann Arbor at the age of 18 with his parents.
He lived here 74 years as a student, teacher, researcher and world famous scientist.
He was a major contributor to the growth of the science of bacteriology in his country. His research and writings have formed the basis for much medical advance.
He retired from the faculty as dean-emeritus of the Medical School in 1935, after 49 years of distinguished service. In his more than 20 years of retirement he retained an alert mind and a keen interest in medical progress.
Experimented As Youth
Born on Dec. 9, 1864, in Chicago, Dr. Novy as a youth developed an early interest in science. Inspired by his chemistry teacher, he began conducting experiments of his own at high school and at home.
In one of his experiments that involved the making of phosgene, the back porch was blown off his house and the house was nearly set afire.
When it came time for the young scientist to attend college, his family moved to Ann Arbor, enabling him to attend the U-M, a decision based on the recommendation of his high school chemistry teacher. In 1886, he was granted his bachelor of science degree in chemistry.
Searching for employment as an analytical chemist, Dr. Novy returned to his native Chicago where he discovered that there were three such chemists, all dependent on other work for their living.
Started Here In 1886
He launched his fascinating and productive professional career in Ann Arbor in 1886.
Appointed instructor in 1887, Dr. Novy's interest became more centered on study of bacteria.
Since bacteriology was an infant science, it was necessary to study from the few inadequate handbooks available on the subject. Seeking further knowledge, Novy and Dr. Victor C. Vaughan of the Medical School traveled to Germany to study under Robert Koch. Following this, Novy went to Paris to study under Louis Pasteur.
First Laboratory Comes
Upon the return of Vaughan and Novy in 1889, the first laboratory course in bacteriology in the country was established at the U-M.
In the meantime, Dr. Novy had been working on his doctor of science degree which he received in 1890. It was in 1891 that he received his M.D. degree and was appointed assistant professor of hygiene.
In 1891 he met and married Grace Garwood. She died in 1946.
Dr. Novy returned to Europe in 1894 for further studies and later spent some time again with Pasteur, investigating rabies vaccination methods.
It was in 1903 that the first anti-rabies station in the U.S. was established in Ann Arbor.
Dr. Novy was the discoverer of the "Novi rat virus," which was one of the first to be identified. And he discovered one of the two most important organisms that cause gas gangrene. The organism was later named cl. novyi.
He was a tall man with a loose-jointed, striking appearance.
Former students have said his laboratory class routine was unpredictable. He is said to have disliked routine and set a premium on originality.
Paul De Kruif, well-known science writer, was a student of Dr. Novy's, receiving his degree of doctor of philosophy under him. Later, while assisting Sinclair Lewis in the writing of "Arrowsmith," it is said that De Kruif suggested Novy as the pattern for the main character, Martin Arrowsmith.
Dr. Novy's dedication to medicine was passed on to his sons, all of whom became doctors, and his two daughters, who married doctors.
After 1925, Dr. Novy's work with the development of the bacteriology department and his later appointment as dean of the Medical School crowded out his research. work.
Honors began to come his way. He was made a Chevalier in the Legion d"Honneur and a member of the Order of the White Lion of Czechoslovakia.
In 1927, he was the Henry Russel Lecturer at the U-M. He was given the Gold Medal of the American Medical Association in 1930 and in 1931 the Michigan Legislature cited him for his work in a public testimonial.
In Ann Arbor he was a member of St. Andrews Church, the Rotary Club and Fraternity Masonic Lodge No. 262, F and AM.
Three Sons Survive
Survivors include three sons, Dr. Robert L. Novy of Detroit, Dr. Frank O. Novy of Saginaw, Dr. Frederick G. Novy, jr., of Berkeley, Calif.; two daughters, Mrs. Warren C. Lambert of Marquette and Mrs. Archibald Diack of Portland, Ore.; 15 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Muehlig Chapel with the Rev. Henry Lewis officiating. Graveside services will be held at Forest Hill Cemetery conducted by officers and members of the fraternity lodge.
Contributions may be made to the Frederick G. Novy Fellowship Fund at the University Medical School.
Friends may call at the funeral chapel Saturday and Sunday.
Medical Dean Pays Tribute
Dr. Albert C. Furstenberg, dean of the University's Medical School, made the following statement after he learned of the death of Dr. Frederick G. Novy:
"It was my privilege to have Dr. Novy as a teacher, a fellow member of the medical faculty and my dean. As our professor of bacteriology, with keen powers of observation and a devoted interest in the work of the classroom and laboratory, he taught the fundamentals of infections which will not fail of lasting recognition in the minds of his students.
"As a member of the medical faculty, Dr. Novy was internationally respected for his ability as a teacher and his scholarly productivity in research. He dedicated himself to the interests of his students, and invariably called them by name as he directed their work for hours each day in the bacteriology laboratories. Years later, he would often greet them courteously at alumni reunions, with full name and place of residence.
"As chairman of the executive committee and later dean of the Medical School, he was tireless in his efforts to modernize the medical curriculum to meet the changing needs of practice and to introduce efficient administration. We have lost a loyal and faithful friend, and one of the world's outstanding pioneers in medical education and research."
University of Michigan Medical School
University of Michigan - Faculty & Staff
Ann Arbor News
Dr. Frederick G. Novy Jr.
Warren C. Lambert
Robert L. Novy
Rev. Henry Lewis
Paul De Kruif
Marguerite Novy Lambert
Grace Garwood Novy
Frances Novy Diack
Dr. Victor C. Vaughan
Dr. Frederick G. Novy
Dr. Frank O. Novy
Albert C. Furstenberg
Archibald W. Diack
721 S. Forest Ave