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Venable, Charles Scott (1877–1961)

Patricia L. Jakobi Biography

Charles Scott (Dr. Charlie) Venable, orthopedist and supporter of organized medicine, was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, on June 13, 1877, son of Charles Scott and Mary (Southall) Venable. His father had been a lieutenant colonel on Gen. Robert E. Lee's staff during the Civil War and was later a professor of mathematics at the University of Virginia. Venable graduated from the University of Virginia Department of Medicine, Charlottesville, in 1900 and then continued his medical studies in London, Paris, Vienna, and Dublin. Upon returning to the United States he was appointed instructor in the medical department at his alma mater. In 1907 he traveled to San Antonio for a visit and moved there the next year to specialize in surgery and gynecology. Within a year of his arrival, he established the Lee Surgical Hospital. In 1911 he helped organize the San Antonio Free Clinic, the first institution of its kind in Southwest Texas, and in 1914 he was among those who hired the first public-health nurse to serve in the San Antonio area. During World War I Venable organized, with Gen. M. W. Ireland of the Army Medical Corps, a local chapter of the Red Cross in San Antonio. Later he received an appointment as medical officer and chief of orthopedics at overseas Base Hospital 41 and received the Congressional Certificate of Merit for his services. He was discharged after the war as a lieutenant colonel and became chief surgeon at Nix Memorial Hospital. For many years he was a consultant in general surgery at both Robert B. Green and Brooke Army hospitals, while he served as honorary professor of surgery at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

Venable was the author of numerous articles. With Walter G. Stuck he wrote The Internal Fixation of Fractures (1947), in which the authors introduced the trademarked alloy Vitallium into the field of bone surgery. Earlier, Venable had fashioned an adjustable traction splint for transporting patients with fractures of the extremities. As a member of the Texas Safety Council he helped draft a state law in 1943 that required ambulances to be equipped with necessary safety and first-aid devices and to be served by personnel trained in first aid. His anger over "wildcat" ambulance services in San Antonio in the early 1950s led to great improvement in that city's services. Venable was a member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, president of the Bexar County Medical Society (1930), an early member and later president (1924) of the Southern Surgical Society, vice president of the Southern Surgical Association (1941), and president of the Texas Medical Association (1943) and the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma (1947). Due to wartime conditions during his TMA presidency, the annual session had to be canceled and only the House of Delegates met. Venable nevertheless established a speakers' bureau to combat government intrusion into the practice of medicine. Under his leadership, the House of Delegates worked to offset the need for public medical care by approving the concept of prepaid medical and hospital care for persons in lower income groups. Venable married Madge J. Bonney in Charlottesville, Virginia, on September 5, 1900. They had four daughters before Madge died in 1925. On December 9, 1932, he married Eleanor A. Herff of San Antonio. Venable died of congestive heart failure in San Antonio on September 20, 1961.

San Antonio Express, January 8, 1952. Texas State Journal of Medicine, November 1961. Transactions of the Southern Surgical Association, 1961.


  • Health and Medicine
  • Physicians and Surgeons
  • Orthopedic and Osteopathic Surgeons

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Patricia L. Jakobi, “Venable, Charles Scott,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 29, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.