Biography of William E. Leighton, M.D.

Dr. William E. Leighton, who is devoting his time to the practice of surgery in St. Louis, was born in Portland, Maine, May 9, 1892, a son of the late George W. Leighton, who was a descendant of an old Massachusetts family which was founded in Cohasset in the early part of the seventeenth century by one of the name who came from England. One of the ancestral lines is traced back to the Packard family of Boston. Later descendants participated in the Revolutionary war. George W. Leighton, the Doctor’s father, was in the granite business and during the Civil war was employed by the government in the lighthouse department on construction work. At one time he served as alderman of Portland and at all times was a stanch supporter of republican principles. He was also a thirty-second degree Mason and ever loyally followed the teachings and purposes of the craft. He married Alexina Drinkwater, a native of Maine, whose family originally came from Aberdeen, Scotland, the ancestral line being traced back to the early part of the sixteenth century. One of the name was knighted by an English king. To Mr. and Mrs. George W. Leighton were born four children, three daughters and a son, the latter being second in order of birth. The father departed this life in 1900, at the age of sixty years. The mother is still living and resides at the old home in Portland.

Dr. Leighton, whose name introduces this review, attended the public schools of Portland and graduated from Bowdoin College with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. He then entered the Harvard Medical School, from which he graduated in 1900 with the degree of Doctor of Medicine. He received his early professional experience through service in the Boston City and in the Worcester City Hospitals, his internship in those institutions covering three years. In the early part of 1904 he located in St. Louis and began the practice of surgery. In this branch of his profession he has since been actively and continuously engaged. He is now surgeon to the Barnard Free Skin & Cancer Hospital, surgeon to the St. Louis City Hospital, and consulting surgeon to St. John’s Hospital. He is also professor of surgery in the medical department of St. Louis University. His professional affiliations are with the St. Louis Medical Society, the Missouri State Medical Association and the American Medical Association. He is a member of the St. Louis Surgical Society, the Western Surgical Association and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He is a well known contributor to leading medical journals on surgical subjects.

In the early part of the World war Dr. Leighton volunteered in the British service and was given the rank of major in the Royal Army Medical Corps and served as operating surgeon to the Twenty-third General Hospital of the British Expeditionary Force, which was stationed at Etaples, France. With the advent of the United States into the war he was appointed a member of the St. Louis Auxiliary Council of National Defense, Medical Section, and was prominent in the recruiting of medical officers in Missouri. From 1918 to 1919 he was attached to the American Expeditionary Force as chief of the surgical service of Evacuation Hospital, No. 13, and finally became the commanding officer of the hospital. He was with the First and Second Armies in the great American offensives at St. Mihiel and Meuse Argonne, and after the armistice accompanied the Army of Occupation into Germany. He was commissioned a major in the Medical Corps U. S. A. and was honorably discharged at Camp Devens, August 11, 1919, after over three years of service with the troops which so strenuously defended democracy in the great international struggle.

At East St. Louis, November 26, 1910, Dr. Leighton was married to Miss Virginia Edwards, a native of St. Louis and a daughter of the late James Stanley and Elizabeth (Treadway) Edwards. Her mother was a representative of an old St. Louis family, while the Edwards family was long a prominent one in Illinois.

Dr. Leighton finds his diversions and recreations in outdoor life and athletics. He was reared in the Universalist faith. but Is now an attendant of the Second Presbyterian church. He belongs to the University Club and fraternally is connected with Deering Lodge, No. 183, A. F. & A. M., of Portland, Maine, of which his father was a charter member. Dr. Leighton has also attained the fourteenth degree in the Scottish Rite and loyally follows the teachings and purposes of the craft. His entire life has been marked by steady progress, by faithful performance of duty and by close adherence to high standards and ideals.


Stevens, Walter B. Centennial History of Missouri (The Center State) One Hundred Years In The Union 1820-1921 Vol 6. St. Louis-Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company. 1921.

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