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This article was published in The American Surgeon Volume 77, Issue 11, November 2011, Pages 1423-1425.

The published version is available at PMID: 22196646. Copyright © Ingenta


From Humble roots, Dr. Robert Milton Zollinger worked his way to a position in history among the giants of American surgery. He was born on September 4, 1903, in the central Ohio town of Millersport, the son of Elmira and William Zollinger. Neither of his parents had a high school education, but they supported education and always expressed a confidence that young Robert would be successful at anything he attempted.1 He had aspirations of attending West Point, a dream that was never fulfilled when he decided to be a surgeon. On being informed of his son’s intentions, Zollinger’s father bestowed on him advice that he ostensibly adhered to throughout his career: ‘‘If you are going to be a doctor, be a good one.’’