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Dr. Walter I. Delph

Urologist Dr. Walter Ivey Delph, Jr. was born on March 25, 1944 in Harlem, New York to Dr. Walter Ivey Delph, Sr., a real estate entrepreneur and family doctor, and Minnette Tillman Delph. Delph’s father was financier and builder of the Ivey Delph Apartments at 19 Hamilton Terrace in Harlem, New York, the first Black apartment project to be backed by a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage. Designed by Vertner Tandy, the first licensed African American architect in New York, Ivey Delph tenants included Marilyn Keets, Buck Clayton and Ted Sturgis.

Raised on Harlem’s Sugar Hill in the 1950s, Delph got his first haircut from Dr. Robert Craft, surrounded by members of the “Black Royalty” who frequented his home. Visitors included Duke Ellington, a young Thurgood Marshall and Jackie Robinson. As a teen, Delph worked at a dry cleaner, at the Ivey Delph in the summer time, and accompanied his father on house calls. Delph’s father’s patients included Ralph Bunche and Delph’s godfather, Adam Clayton Powell. Adam Wells mentored Delph after he lost his father at age sixteen.

After a lackluster academic start, Delph found his passion in high school science. Accepted at Adelphi University, Delph earned his B.A. degree and advanced to a memorable career at Howard Medical School where he was trained and mentored by colleagues of his father. During high school, Delph trained in surgery at Montefiore Hospital. Delph returned to Montefiore Hospital after medical school for a residency in general surgery, but soon switched to a relatively nascent field, urology. Delph’s career has spanned vast improvements in urological treatment and endured major shifts in medicine, including the advent of the HMO.

Delph, the former Director of Urology at North General Hospital, the American Cancer Society since 1982 and served as the president of the Students American Medical Association (SAMA) when he was at Howard University and supports the Schomburg Center for Black Research. Delph served on the board of the YMCA from 1978 to 1982 and the New York Urban League from 1982 to 1987.

Delph is currently married to Aminta Griffith. He has three children: Andrea, Walter, III and Channing Delph.

Delph was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 27, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.170

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/27/2007

Last Name

Delph

Maker Category
Middle Name

I.

Occupation
Schools

Dalton School

Riverdale Country School

Adelphi University

Howard University College of Medicine

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Walter

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

DEL06

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Adults, Seniors

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

No

Favorite Season

Fall

Speaker Bureau Notes

Availability Specifics: Give 10 days to 2 weeks notice
Preferred Audience: Adults, Seniors

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

3/25/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Soul Food

Short Description

Urologist Dr. Walter I. Delph (1944 - ) was the director of urology at North General Hospital in New York City.

Employment

Montefiore Medical Center

Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

St. Luke's Hospital

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. Walter I. Delph's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. Walter I. Delph lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. Walter I. Delph recalls his father's first real estate venture

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. Walter I. Delph remembers his father's patients and business partners

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. Walter I. Delph recalls the famous residents of the Harlem neighborhood in New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes the churches in New York City's Harlem neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes his grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. Walter I. Delph recalls his home life

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. Walter I. Delph remembers The Dalton School in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes the Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. Walter I. Delph recalls his early aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. Walter I. Delph remembers his father's death

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes his father's medical practice

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes his relationship with his parents

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes his experiences at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes his studies at Adelphi University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes his awareness of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. Walter I. Delph remembers Howard University College of Medicine, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. Walter I. Delph remembers Howard University College of Medicine, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes his activities during medical school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. Walter I. Delph recalls his first marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes his internship at the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dr. Walter I. Delph recalls his aspiration to become a surgeon

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. Walter I. Delph remembers joining the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dr. Walter I. Delph recalls his travels with the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes his early career in urology

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dr. Walter I. Delph recalls performing kidney transplants

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes his residency at the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dr. Walter I. Delph recalls founding his urology practice

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes his office manager

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Dr. Walter I. Delph talks about the National Medical Association

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dr. Walter I. Delph recalls joining the National Medical Association

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes his presidency of the Manhattan Central Medical Society

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes his decision to move to Scarsdale, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dr. Walter I. Delph talks about the changes to the Harlem community in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes the changes in the health insurance industry

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dr. Walter I. Delph recalls his cancer diagnoses

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dr. Walter I. Delph talks about his experiences with meditation

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dr. Walter I. Delph talks about civil disobedience

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dr. Walter I. Delph talks about affirmative action

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes his organizational involvement

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dr. Walter I. Delph remembers becoming a police surgeon

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dr. Walter I. Delph remembers Dr. Harold Freeman

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes his membership in Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dr. Walter I. Delph describes his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dr. Walter I. Delph reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Dr. Walter I. Delph narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

4$4

DATitle
Dr. Walter I. Delph describes his father
Dr. Walter I. Delph describes his early career in urology
Transcript
And your father, what's his name and when and where was he born?$$Also Dr. Walter Delph, Sr. [Dr. Walter I. Delph, Sr.], born in Augusta, Georgia in 1895.$$And did he share with you any stories about his upbringing in Georgia? I understand that you said that the pickings were slim but do you have any sense (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Dad had some interesting stories, you know, but, you know, as far as roots, he didn't talk much about other family. Evidently, a very small family down there, on my mother's [Minnette Tillman Delph] side also, but dad had a great story talking about, 'cause he was an old-fashioned general practitioner here in Harlem [New York, New York] and he'd do everything from deliver babies to, do minor surgery, and I remember him telling me about his circumcision. You'll have to excuse urologists talking freely about these kind of things, but dad took a lot of pride in saying that he assisted in his own circumcision when he was probably about seventeen or eighteen. That would have been something under local anesthesia (laughter).$$And how did your father come to become a doctor? Where did he do his training?$$Dad was educated down there in Augusta and there was, evidently, a very famous school down there, Lucy Laney [Lucy Craft Laney High School, Augusta, Georgia] and where Morehouse College [Atlanta, Georgia] started, in Augusta, Georgia, and then moved to Atlanta. So, Augusta was very important for young blacks coming up and Lucy Laney [Lucy Craft Laney] was evidently a tough, you know, headmistress but she got a whole lot of folks educated, and dad was very smart. It was classical education. He had Greek and Latin as a kid. Left Lucy Laney and went to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania [Lincoln University, Lincoln University, Pennsylvania], and then Howard [Howard University College of Medicine, Washington, D.C.] for med school.$$Okay, and you said here he was a general practitioner and I know that he was a real estate investor in New York [New York]. Was he involved in similar real estate endeavors before he came to New York?$$When he left Augusta, I get stories about my father all the time from people but no, there was no property down south on either side that I know of but dad did very well in Harlem in those days before health insurance and stuff, and all the politics and, of medicine, and send money back to Lucy Laney High School and supported the football team and everything. He was a special guy.$$So, once he moved to New York and became a general practitioner, how long did he engage in that? What was his career like be--$$His whole life.$$--before?$$His whole life. He worked in medicine until he died, 1960, of stress along with, you know, he died at age sixty-five, a young man, but his whole life was general practice of medicine in Harlem.$So, there was urology, I write back to Montefiore [Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, New York] 'cause they were holding a surgical spot for me, and I said, "I'm now interested in urology and when I come back I want to talk to Selwyn Fried, the chief, and I'm going to ask him for a slot in urology." So, that's how I go into urology (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) And did, in addition to your interest, did you think that urology was something that was needed in the Manhattan, Harlem [New York, New York] community?$$Oh, yeah. We didn't have a urologist. We didn't have any urologists. My father [Dr. Walter I. Delph, Sr.], in his final days, ended up having all kinds of surgery. Had this big neck tumor and had to have that removed, so had head and neck surgery, and we didn't have any head and neck surgeons, nobody who was trained in that. So, it was a neurosurgeon who was an outstanding surgeon that did that operation on my dad at Sydenham Hospital [New York, New York], which it just closed a while ago. So, he also couldn't urinate during this hospitalization. So, another general surgeon takes out his prostate 'cause there were no urologists there. So, another reason why, well, there's a need. And so, I go into urology with Selwyn Fried, and these Jewish fathers up there, a couple of black younger urologists in those days, trained by this man who was again, open. He was a mean old sucker, but he was open and he said, "Okay, yeah, come on in, I'm going to train you," and even though New York [New York] had fourteen urologic programs in it and seven medical schools in this immediate area, not many were opening their doors to blacks for residency. Selwyn Fried allowed me in, and again, worked my tail off and that, those were some hard years, physically and now you are studying the kidney at a microscopic level. You're not learning normal kidney, like in med school, you're not learning abnormal kidney, like pathology in med school, you are actually taking care of human beings that their kidneys aren't working. So I ended up doing a year of transplant surgery, fellowship at Montefiore again, transplanting a kidney from a normal person into a person who had no kidney function anymore, on dialysis, beginning days of dialysis too. So, 1970, Veith, Frank Veith, was the head of vascular surgery at Montefiore and he said, "Okay, you can do that fellowship before you go into urology." So I come back and I have a total of five years of more residency when I come back from the [U.S.] Air Force, five of the hardest years of my life, okay. Med school [Howard University College of Medicine, Washington, D.C.] was fun, I learned a lot but, I mean, I'm working very hard for those five years.