Family Stories · Dr. Charles Alexander Warfield and the Founding of the University of Maryland Medical School
Dr. Melissa Anthony Warfield
(1930 2006)

By Jean Warfield Donnelly Keenan with Carolyn Warfield Scheele Fakadej
 November 2015

The Warfield family produced medical doctors in succeeding generations beginning with Dr. Charles Alexander Warfield (1751-1813), his sons Dr. Peregrine Warfield (1779-1856) and Dr. Gustavus Warfield (1784-1866), his grandson Dr. Evan William Warfield (1826-1904), and his great-great-granddaughter Dr. Melissa Anthony Warfield (1930-2006) about whom this article is written. Today medical doctors in the family are Dr. Thomas B. Cockey III and his son Dr. Barton M. Cockey both of Baltimore County, Maryland; Dr. George A. Scheele of La Jolla, California; Dr. Maria M. Fakadej of Clayton, North Carolina; and Dr. Anna F. Fakadej of Pinehurst, NC.
Dr. Evan Warfield married (1) Sallie Anne Warfield who died in 1881. Nine years later, on June 30, 1890 Dr. Evan married (2) Julia Gilmer Anthony of Richmond, VA.  Their first child, William Anthony Warfield, was born on October 23, 1891 and died on July 30, 1892. He is buried in the family cemetery at ‘Longwood’, Howard County, MD. Their second child was Gilmer Anthony Warfield who married a woman named Zora. Melissa Anthony Warfield, their only child, was born in 1930.
As a young child, Melissa wanted to be an artist.  Her father taught her how to carve wood and make all sorts of objects such as letter openers, numerous animals, gnomes (her favorite), and a five-level crèche with a windmill on top that causes each carved figure to rotate.  Carving was a life-long hobby. However, her mother suggested that she study something that would give her greater financial resources. In response to this request Melissa decided she wanted to be a surgeon. 

In 1951 Melissa graduated from The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA and then from The Women’s College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia which later became Drexel University College of Medicine.  She did a residency in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and this was followed by a Fellowship in Pediatric Hematology at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, finishing in 1960.

Dr. Melissa Warfield’s first faculty position was at the University of Virginia Medical School in Charlottesville, VA, making a six-hour round trip daily to serve in this capacity. Dr. Warfield then became the Founder and Director of the Pediatric Residency Program at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD) in Norfolk, VA. Here she also directed the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS). She established “Humanism in Medicine” as a founding principle of the medical school. Long before it was required at other medical schools. She also pushed for “Bioethics” as a fundamental feature of the curriculum at EVMS and became Co-Director of the “Human Values in Medicine Program” at EVMS.

In the 1970s, after diagnosing the first case of lead poisoning in Norfolk, Dr. Melissa Warfield went on to initiate and promote other programs such as the Lead Poisoning Screening Program with the Norfolk Health Department and CHKD’s child protection services.  In addition, she was a consultant to the Tidewater Center for Sickle Cell Anemia.

Dr. Melissa Warfield died on September 29, 2006 at the age of 76.  Recalling her fondly, former Dean Evan R. Farmer of Eastern Virginia Medical School wrote, “She is a builder of children’s hospitals, a builder of medical schools, a builder of communities, a builder of physicians, and a builder of children.  She did all these things despite the hardships that women faced, making her then, as she is now, an exceptional role model for women and an exceptional role model for leadership in Medicine.” 

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©2005 George A. Scheele MD