Dr. Lloyd C. Elam, former president of Meharry Medical College, has passed away at the age of 79. According to an announcement from the college, he died suddenly on Friday while traveling in Mississippi.
[Update, 9:20 a.m. Monday: Meharry's announcement stated that Dr. Elam was in Mississippi for a golf outing. Spokesperson Janet M. Caldwell told NashvillePost.com on Monday that the announcement was incorrect — he was in Mississippi, but not to play golf.]
Elam served as president of Meharry from 1968 to 1981 and as a professor of psychiatry at the historically black medical school from 1961 to 1995. Several new buildings were added to the campus during his time at the helm, including the landmark tower that is now Nashville General Hospital at Meharry Medical College.
A native of Little Rock, Ark., Elam earned an undergraduate degree at Chicago's Roosevelt University in 1950. In 1957, after serving in the U.S. Army, he became the first African-American to receive an M.D. degree from the University of Washington School of Medicine. He later accepted honorary doctorates from Meharry, St. Lawrence University and Harvard University.
Other honors bestowed on Elam included the Human Relations Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews and the highest alumni award of Roosevelt University. Meharry's Lloyd C. Elam Mental Health Center is named for him.
In the 1990s, Elam held corporate directorships on the boards of BellSouth Telecommunications Inc. and pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. Inc.
Surviving Elam are wife, Clara Elam, and two daughters, Dr. Gloria Elam-Norris of Chicago and Dr. Laurie Elam-Evans of Atlanta, as well as two grandchildren. The Black Nashville Genealogy and History blog has details on his family history.
Memorial arrangements are not yet complete. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Capitol Hill Renovation Fund of First Baptist Church, 625 Rosa L. Parks Blvd., Nashville, TN 37203, or Meharry's Lloyd C. Elam M.D. Endowed Scholarship, 1005 Dr. D.B. Todd Blvd., Nashville, TN 37208.