Thurman Elroy Vass

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Chris & Kerry
December 14, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.
Chicago and New York, Volume II
pg. 156

THURMAN ELROY VASS, M. D. A highly accomplished physician and surgeon at
Bluefield, Doctor Vass enjoys a secure prestige in his profession. He possesses
the personality and the ability that inspire confidence, and in addition to the
good work he has done at Bluefield he has a record as a medical officer with the
army, having served in home camps and abroad nearly two years.

Doctor Vass was born in Summers County, West Virginia, January 27, 1889, son of
Phillip Edward and Eliza (Green) Vass. His parents were born in Monroe County,
West Virginia, and his father was a contractor and builder who did a great deal
of construction work in McDowell and Mercer counties and, in fact, all through
the southern part of the state.

Doctor Vass attended the graded schools of McDowell County, graduated in the
academic course from the Concord Normal School in January, 1909, and for three
years was in West Virginia University, the first year in the preparatory medical
course and two years in the regular course. From there he entered the College of
Physicians and Surgeons at Baltimore, where he graduated M. D. in 1914. Doctor
Vass practiced the first year at Princeton and then moved to Bluefield, where
he was well established before the war came on. He is now a member of the staff
and assistant surgeon of St. Luke’s Hospital.

Almost as soon as America declared war against Germany he enlisted and was
commissioned a first lieutenant in the Medical Reserve Corps. He spent five
weeks in the Medical Officers’ Training School at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, was
then assigned to duty at General Hospital No. 14 at Fort Oglethorpe, a month
later was sent to the Base Hospital at Camp Travis, Texas, remaining there three
weeks, then one month at General Hospital No. 1 at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and
for three weeks was at Base Hospital at Camp McClellan, Anniston, Alabama.
Ordered for duty overseas, he spent six days at Camp Mills, New York, and
October 7, 1918, sailed from Hoboken, landing at Liverpool, October 19th,
crossed England and the Channel to La Havre, and was assigned to Rimaucourt Base
Hospital Center, where he remained until January 5, 1919. From that date until
January 25, 1919, he was at Base Hospital No. 13 at Limoges, and was then sent
to Mehun to join the Third Ordnance Battalion as medical officer. February 8th
this detachment moved up to San Loubes and thence to Geni Court, and from there
to Bassen docks where the command sailed for home, reaching port March 5, 1919,
and proceeding to Camp Merritt. From there Captain Vass went to Camp Dix, where
he received his honorable discharge May 9, 1919, and then returned to Bluefield
and resumed his private practice after an absence of practically two years.

While still doing duty in France Doctor Vass was apprised of the death of his
wife. He had married Miss Nena Beatrice Sell, of Charleston, West Virginia, in
February, 1918, and she died a little more than a year later, on March 9, 1919.
She was a daughter of L. A. Sell. Doctor Vass is a member of the Episcopal
Church, a Royal Arch and Scottish Rite Mason and Shriner at Alzafar of San
Antonio, Texas, a member of the County, State and American Medical associations,
and belongs to the American Legion and Kiwanis Club. While in college he was
pitcher in the baseball team, and retains an active interest in all outdoor