John Fonda Ward Whitbeck was born in Lima, New York in 1844, three years before the Rochester City Hospital was chartered. He was the son of John Fonda Whitbeck, one of the early medical staff members of the new Hospital. The son, J. F. W. Whitbeck was to be one of the Hospital's greatest benefactors. He graduated from the University of Rochester in 1867, received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1870, and after spending three years of additional study in Europe, returned to establish a practice in Rochester in 1873. He developed an excellent reputation as a devoted, skillful family physician and surgeon with a major interest and involvement in community health, particularly the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis.
He was appointed to the Medical Staff of the Rochester City Hospital as visiting physician in 1880 and then as visiting surgeon in 1885. His thirty-five-year association with the hospital was marked by his major gift in 1891 which permitted the construction of the surgical pavilion, later to bear the family name. This important addition, one of a series of new buildings constructed during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, was considered the major contribution to the hospital's ability "to meet all the new and progressive requirements of modern surgery," according to a 1916 memorial tribute in the July 1916 Hospital Review. Dr. Whitbeck's long involvement and devoted service to the institution continued with service as President of the Medical Staff from 1898 until his death 1916. (courtesy John Olson, M.D.)