May 17, 2023

Honoring the memory of William Coleman, Sr., M.D., Ph.D.

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Guests enjoy socializing and celebrating the announcement of two new endowments at the UAB School of Medicine Monday, April 8, 2019 in Huntsville, Ala. (Eric Schultz / Rocket City Photo)William H. Coleman, Sr., M.D., Ph.D., a longtime physician leader and educator at the UAB Huntsville Regional Medical Campus (HRMC) and champion of rural medicine, died May 11, 2023. For decades, Coleman served as a professor of Family Medicine and as a clinical professor on the volunteer faculty of the HRMC. He also was the director of the HRMC’s Office for Family Health Education and Research.

Hailing from Jemison, Alabama, Coleman earned his Ph.D. in anatomy and his medical degree from the University of Alabama Medical College (now the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine), and was among the first residents to complete the Huntsville Family Practice Residency Program. He practiced family medicine in Scottsboro for 26 years.

Coleman was well-known for managing Alabama’s largest rural primary care workforce database, which has been utilized by the Alabama Governor’s Office, the Alabama State Legislature, and the Alabama Department of Public Health. He was president of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) in 1994. From 1996-2000 he served on the U.S. Secretary of Health’s National Advisory Committee on Rural Health, and was president of the Alabama Rural Health Association from 2013-2014.

In 2006, Coleman established the Rural Medicine Program, a partnership between Auburn University and the UAB Huntsville Regional Medical Campus aimed at preparing rural students for medical school. He directed the program from 2006-2015.

In recognition of his exceptional service, Coleman was inducted into the Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame in 2012, received the John G. Walsh Award for Lifetime Contributions to Family Medicine from the AAFP in 2014, and received the Samuel Buford Word Award from the Medical Association of the State of Alabama in 2019. In February 2023, he was awarded the Garber Galbraith Medical-Political Award by the University of Alabama Medical Alumni Association.

In 2019, the William H. Coleman, Sr., M.D., Ph.D., Huntsville Family Medicine Endowed Professorship was established at the HRMC in honor of his longtime service. It was among the first endowments established for the Huntsville campus.

“It was a true honor to work closely these past few years with Dr. Coleman,” said Roger Smalligan, M.D., MPH, regional dean of the HRMC. “He was a true servant-leader who was passionate about raising up the next generation of physicians for rural Alabama and the U.S. He is dearly missed but his legacy lives on.”

“Dr. Coleman will be remembered for his passion for family medicine and medical education, as well as his abiding concern for rural medicine,” said Anupam Agarwal, M.D., senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the Heersink School of Medicine. “I am grateful for his service to the Heersink School of Medicine, the Huntsville Regional Medical Campus, and the state of Alabama.”