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Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr.

Dr. Robert John Bacon, Sr. was born on March 9, 1923 on the Taylor Plantation in Como, Mississippi to Minnie and Frank Bacon. The family moved to Sardis, Mississippi where they lived in a log cabin when Bacon was age three or four. Later, the family migrated to Lake Forest, Illinois. In 1933, his parents took a “couples” job and had living quarters with the family they worked with. Bacon was left in the care of family friends, Sherman and Alice Black, who raised him from age ten until he graduated from high school. Bacon was introduced to art, literature, dance and music while in grade school. He attended Lake Forest High School with only four other African American students and graduated in 1941.

Bacon entered Fisk University in the fall of 1941. In 1944, during World War II, he accepted an early admission offer to attend Meharry Medical College through the U.S. Army Student Training Program where he received his medical degree in 1947. Bacon also served in the Korean War as a First Lieutenant Medic. He did his internship at Provident Hospital in Chicago, Illinois and his residency at Homer G. Phillips Hospital where he specialized in urology. In 1953, Bacon relocated to Houston, Texas, where he began his own private practice. It was not until other African American physicians came to Houston, however, that his practice began to thrive. Along with a number of other physicians with different specialties, he built the Lockwood Professional Group.

Bacon served on the Board of Directors for the State Department of Corrections for six years and served as a reviewer for the State Board of Medical Examiners also for six years. In 1975, Bacon began his nineteen year tenure with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas where he served as a full-time faculty member. He was a diplomat of the American Board of Urology and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the International College of Surgeons. Upon retirement, he worked in an STD clinic in Houston and was on the front lines of the HIV epidemic in the black population. Bacon was married to the late Bernice Bacon for fifty-eight years. They had two adult sons: Dr. Robert John Bacon, Jr., a practicing psychiatrist in Houston, Texas, and Kenneth Bacon, an Executive Vice President for Fannie Mae in Washington, D.C.

Bacon passed away on March 14, 2009 at age 86.

Accession Number

A2007.057

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/9/2007

Last Name

Bacon

Maker Category
Middle Name

John

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Lake Forest High School

Fisk University

Meharry Medical College

First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Como

HM ID

BAC02

Favorite Season

None

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

The Lord Is My Shepherd, I Shall Not Want.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

3/9/1923

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Houston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Meat, Asparagus, Greens (Mixed)

Death Date

3/14/2009

Short Description

Urologist Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. (1923 - 2009 ) started a private practice called the Lockwood Professional Group, and had a nineteen year tenure with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas as a full-time faculty member. Upon retirement, he worked in an STD clinic in Houston and was on the front lines of the HIV epidemic in the black population.

Employment

United States Army

Provident Hospital

Hover G. Philips Hospital

Lockwood Professional Group

Baylor College of Medicine

Favorite Color

Pink

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. describes his parents' marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. describes his experiences in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. talks about his birth on the Taylor Plantation in Como, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. recalls the residents of Lake Forest, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. recalls the residents of Lake Forest, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. remembers his early arts education

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. remembers his influential teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. remembers his academic honors

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. remembers his experiences of corporal punishment

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. talks about his integrated schooling

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. remembers his grade school experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. recalls his guardians, Alice Black and Sherman Black

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. remembers the Great Depression

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. recalls his teachers at Lake Forest High School in Lake Forest, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. remembers Coach Edgar William Lindenmeyer

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. recalls his early work experiences

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. recalls his arrival at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. describes his social life at Fisk University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. talks about his experiences at Fisk University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. recalls his service in the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. talks about his decision to attend medical school

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. remembers Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. remembers Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. describes the medical controversies of the 1940s

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. recalls the accomplishments of African American doctors

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. remembers his medical internship and residency

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. describes his mentors in urology

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. recalls serving in the Korean War

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. reflects upon American foreign policy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. recalls opening a medical practice in Houston, Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. describes his civil rights involvement

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. remembers Congresswoman Barbara Jordan

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. talks about his professional affiliations in medicine

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. remembers reviewing medical malpractice cases

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. remembers his work at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. recalls working at sexual health clinic

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

6$2

DATitle
Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. remembers his academic honors
Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr. recalls the accomplishments of African American doctors
Transcript
When some awards were being made, the American Legion was giving out some awards, the smartest person in the school system was Ruth Cohen, Jewish. As I recall according to the Iowa system of testing [Iowa Test of Basic Skills] she had an IQ of 171, 181. You know who was second? Old Robert Bacon [HistoryMaker Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr.] was number two. Robert Bacon's IQ was 151, 160. And academically Robert Bacon chased Ruth Cohen from the fifth grade through high school (laughter), never caught her. She had a sister who was one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen, she was near genius. She had a brother who was also the same. But for some reason he could never pass French, he had to go to summer school three years in a row (laughter) to finally pass French. But Ruth ended up, she went to, she got a scholarship, she went to University of Chicago [Chicago, Illinois], and in five years she had a master's [degree] and a Ph.D. in biophysics. She and the guy she married were down there in Tennessee in that big atomic plant in Tennessee. When she died that's where, she had retired from down there. I don't know what happened to her brother and sister. But anyway, the American Legion would give out these awards every year for the top girl and the top boy. So when the awards were being made, first award goes to Virginia Copithorne, Virginia's dad ran and was part of Wells and Copithorne hardware, big legionnaire. Second award goes to Trevor Kovan [ph.], father was a janitor at school and, and Trevor's father was the boss of the American Legion. And when that program was over John E. Baggett called everybody to the side and wanted to know where the hell did they get those grades from? In the meanwhile, Mr. Copithorne as I recall said Virginia couldn't have hers because he knew damn well that Virginia was not the top girl. And they were at that, I think at that time, there were two blacks that belonged to the American Legion post, Walter Williams [ph.] and Clarence McIntosh, but all hell broke loose at that American Legion post I understand. So when I got to high school [Lake Forest High School, Lake Forest, Illinois], who got the awards in high school, Ruth Cohen and Robert Bacon got the awards for citizenship, academic this and that (laughter). And what happened to Trevor, he was a good C student in high school, Virginia was always a good B student but Trevor was not an honor student. But that was one of my good experiences with race there. The other came when Mr. Emma [Joseph Emma], who ran the Deerpath Theatre [Lake Forest, Illinois], suddenly decided that the blacks should sit in the balcony. Because one Saturday, oh, you know, Saturday we go see what, one, Buck--one of the big western movies, you know, you had the movie, the coming attractions, the cartoon and all that. And we go there and, oh, yeah, and the serials too, and we go there and he tells us we got to go upstairs. So we go up there and we thought maybe something (unclear). After a while we realize nobody's up there but the black kids. And who was it? Lillian Harrison [ph.], and one of the other girls, I think, one of the Casselberry girls, they went downstairs and wanted to know what it's all about. And they get an all off the wall answer and he, so anyway there's somebody brought it up at the city council meeting, and Mr. Emma gave a whole lot of roundabout reasons but he was informed that that was not in the best interest of the city and it dropped.$(Simultaneous) But that was the thing I learned there because after graduating Meharry [Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee] came, you know, the internships and residencies. But this is where I started meeting and finding out how much the black physicians had contributed to, to our care as a whole because I met some outstanding mentors there at Meharry. Matthew Walker [Matthew Walker, Sr.] didn't take a backseat to nobody in the field of surgery. And it was admitted. And as late, as early as 1945, '46 [1946], we were getting lectures about lung cancer and smoking and, of course, nobody paid it any attention. I think Meharry medical school or Washington University in St. Louis [St. Louis, Missouri] and I think the guys out at Johns Hopkins [Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland] were but three schools whose faculty were saying then that smoking was a cause of lung cancer. And, of course, the tobacco companies exerted their pressures, and, you know, it didn't get too far. But this is when I met some outstanding men. Dr. James [ph.], the black prince in obstetrics and gynecology and some of the contributions he made. And then some of the men who graduated from there, the class ahead of me, a guy named Lawrence [ph.] who went out, later ended up out at the University of Iowa Medical Center [University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, Iowa] as one of their outstanding surgeons. Some of them guys are produced by Meharry and Howard [Howard University College of Medicine, Washington, D.C.]. But it was a learning experience from the standpoint of knowing what we could do and what we were doing but how little of it was known. I think that was the thing that really got to us. All these things were, but it would come out only in the national, Journal of the National Medical Association. Because up at Howard, R. Frank Jones and his partner [Kline Price] wrote some of the most original articles in the field of urology, that's my field, and those articles were never published in The Journal of Urology until some years ago. And Frank--but they came out in the Journal of the National Medical Association. In fact, Hereford [Merle Hereford] and Bacon [HistoryMaker Dr. Robert J. Bacon, Sr.] wrote a paper. If you go to The Journal of Urology, it came out in the Missouri state journal [Journal of the Missouri State Medical Association; Missouri Medicine]. And then Bacon wrote another, Bacon wrote another paper didn't come out in The Journal of Urology, came out in the local paper, Journal of the International College of Surgeons. But those, the American Medical Association, for years--but it was rather ironic a couple of years ago, who should be president of the American Medical Association? A black doctor from Detroit [Michigan].