Dr. John B. (Jack) Nettles, who died March 10, was a former vice president of ACOG and chair of District VII. He was recognized in the College and far beyond for his profound impact on clinical practice, investigation, and teaching of obstetrics and gynecology.
As professor emeritus and former chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa — giving his name to The J. B. Nettles Women's Center — Dr. Nettles was clinically and educationally active well into his eighties.
Dr. Nettles’s career in organized medicine began in the late 1940s, while he was in residency at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System and developing a lifelong interest in maternal health care. “During this time, I also got involved in [ACOG], which began as the American Academy of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and there was a big argument about whether we should be an academy, or what name we should have to really define us,” he recalled in 2016 in an oral history project for the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa.
Over several decades, Dr. Nettles served ACOG in multiple capacities, including as vice president (1977–78) and delegate to the American Medical Association (AMA) (1987–96). Previously, he had been district chairman on the Executive Board (1970–1973) and district secretary-treasurer (1964–1970). His ACOG colleagues recognized Dr. Nettles with the Distinguished Service Award 1998, the National Teacher Award 1992, and the District VII Outstanding Clinical Professor Award 1989. Dr. Nettles’s contributions to organized medicine included various roles at the AMA, the American College of Surgeons, and the Oklahoma State Medical Association.
Jack Nettles entered the University of South Carolina at age 15, graduating in 1941. After receiving his medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina in 1944, he served in the Medical Corps for the U.S. Naval Reserve, with a second stint of active duty in the early 1950s. As a fellow in pathology at the University of Georgia, he worked on the pap test before it was an accepted clinical tool. Through his career he published on uterine malignancy, pre-eclampsia and other kidney diseases in pregnancy, perinatal morbidity and mortality, and adolescent pregnancy. Dr. Nettles’s impact on teaching obstetrics and gynecology reflected multiple roles in resident and graduate education, licensing examination, and continuing medical education. His achievements, humanitarianism, and leadership qualities earned him numerous professional awards.
Dr. Nettles died peacefully on March 10, in the presence of his wife, Sandie, a former District VII manager.