Sally Abston, MD of Galveston, Texas, died August 27, 2008 at the age of 74 at the University of Texas Medical Branch.
She was born May 29, 1934, in Refugio, Texas. She grew up in Fort Worth and Houston, Texas, where she graduated from Austin High School. She graduated from Rice University in 1956 and collected owl memorabilia for the rest of her life. Dr. Abston received her medical degree in 1962 from UTMB, where she also completed an internship and residency in General Surgery. Following her retirement from a long career in medicine and surgery on the faculty of UTMB, she graduated from Galveston College with an AA in substance abuse counseling.
Most of her adult life was devoted to the patients, staff, trainees and faculty of the medical branch. She was the Annie Laurie Howard Distinguished Professor in Burn Surgery. Among her awards were: the Dean of Medicine’s Teacher of the Year Award, 1980; the Alumni Association Appreciation Award of Excellence in Teaching, 1991; the Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumni Award and the Distinguished Member Award from the Association of Women’s Surgeons, 1994. For 17 years she cared for burn patients at Shriners Burns Hospital and the Blocker Burn Unit. Dr. Abston pioneered nutritional support and the use of compression garments for burned patients, treatments now considered standard of care worldwide. She managed the UTMB Emergency Room for six years, where one of her proudest accomplishments was directing the lifeflight service. Dr. Abston also spearheaded UTMB’s long-standing relationship with the St. Vincent’s Clinic.
Sally is survived by her life companion of 34 years, Joanne Mallett; by her children, Catherine Lee Abston and Richard Fitzgerald Abston; by Joanne’s children, Rachel Battey and her five children, Laura Lee McMeley and her husband, Todd; and Sara Marie Mallett. Sally’s love extended to include as her children; Albert Jesus Chavarria and Catherine Christine Phelan Vail and her son Patrick Vail. She is survived by her sister-in-law Carol Abston; by Carol’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and by her cousin Mary Lee Pernell. She is predeceased by her parents, Charles Richard and Susie Abston, by her brother Joseph Richard Abston and by her aunt Charlotte Abston Pernell.
Visitation and a time to share “Sally-stories” will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, August 29 at Malloy and Son Funeral Home, 3028 Broadway in Galveston. Services will be at First Presbyterian Church of Galveston Saturday, August 30 at 11:00 a.m., followed by internment at Calvary Cemetery in Galveston. A reception will be held in the church fellowship hall after the burial. Memorial Donations may be made to the charity of your choice. For further information call: Malloy and Son Funeral Home 409-763-2475.
Alongside her superb academic career was her brilliant character. With profound passion for justice and truth, she humbly nurtured well-being at every level in each individual she encountered. Patients and their families, medical students, residents, nurses, doctors and a widespread community of people from every walk of life felt healed in some way by this petite lady with a big voice, known to so many simply as “Dr. Sally.”