This post was authored by ACC President Kim Allan Williams Sr., MD, FACC.
The cardiovascular community lost a master clinician, educator, advocate, researcher and mentor last week with the unexpected passing of William C. Little, MD, FACC.
Bill was an internationally renowned cardiologist with research interest in ventricular function. He is credited for research leading to a shift in thinking about atherosclerosis as a systemic process and the ensuing use of aspirin or statins. One of his major research accomplishments was the finding that acute cardiac events often occurred at sites of minimal stenosis.
I met Bill while serving with him on the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) cardiovascular exam committee from 2006 to 2012. Bill was very active serving on the ABIM Board of Directors as well as the ABIM Council throughout the last decade. Bill was serving as a professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine at the time of his passing.
Prior to the University of Mississippi, he was at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC, where he was the McMichael Professor and Chief of Cardiology, vice chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, and vice chair and head of the finance committee of Wake Forest University Physicians. In addition, he served as the director of the Heart Center, associate chief of professional service, and member of the North Carolina Baptist Hospital Board of Trustees. He earned his BA in physics at Oberlin College in Ohio, and his MD from Ohio State University College of Medicine. He completed an internal medicine residency at the University of Virginia Hospital, followed by a cardiology fellowship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He held faculty positions at UAB and the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio until joining Wake Forest in 1986.
While his academic research record speaks for itself, Bill also served as a friend and mentor to so many, including me. Bill’s formative advice on the pitfalls and the potential of becoming a cardiology chief was transformative. This was precious and priceless material that he freely shared with me. For that I am eternally grateful.
One of the many emails from colleagues across the country summed him up best, calling him “the ultimate quadruple threat: teacher, researcher, clinician and administrator.” There is no doubt that Bill’s legacy will live on through his many colleagues and former trainees, as well as through his wife, Connie, his children and grandchildren.