Nancy E. Warner was the first woman chair at the USC School of Medicine, now the Keck School of Medicine of USC. (Photo/Courtesy of the Keck School of Medicine of USC)

Nancy E. Warner, MD, physician, pathologist, teacher and mentor died in the late afternoon of Aug. 17 at the age of 97. Known for her resilience, curiosity and zest for life, she was the first woman chair at the USC School of Medicine, now the Keck School of Medicine of USC, as well as the first woman chair of a pathology department in a co-educational institution in the United States. 

Named Outstanding Teacher by the Keck School’s medical students four times, Warner also received The American Society of Clinical Pathologists’ Distinguished Pathology Educator Award in 1994 and USC’s Distinguished Emeriti Award in 1996. In 2009, she received the USC Emeriti Center’s Inaugural Paul E. Hadley Faculty Award for Service to USC. 

Warner was a passionate supporter of women medical students, fellows and faculty, and was instrumental in the establishment of the Medical Faculty Women’s Association (MFWA) and its associated research fund. She was also active in national efforts to support women in academia, including Women in Medicine and the American Association of Medical Colleges Women Faculty Leadership Programs.

Over the course of her career, Warner distinguished herself as a surgical pathologist specializing in endocrine pathology, publishing in scientific journals and in a widely acclaimed textbook.  She was a gifted teacher of medical students, residents and fellows and received numerous awards for her work. 

 In 1972, Warner was appointed chair of the Department of Pathology of the the Keck School and was subsequently named the Hastings Professor of Pathology.

“That just wasn’t done back then,” Warner said in a 2014 interview. “The people in the department were very gracious, all of them. There were some big professors, and I didn’t know how they were going to take it. But there was no problem.”

She served as chair of the Department of Pathology for 11 years, stepping down to practice surgical pathology at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. Meanwhile, she continued to teach, which she said was one of the great joys in her life.

In 1993, Warner officially retired, but remained active in the USC community to teach and serve as a board member for the MFWA Research Fund, the Edmondson Faculty Center and the Retired Faculty Association. 

Warner is survived by her nephews Henry Nichols, Peter Nichols and his wife Jody, her niece Nancy Nichols, her great-nephews Peter Nichols Jr. and his wife, Arshya Adeli, Benjamin Nichols and his wife, Kambridge Hribar and Jeffrey Fritts.  She also leaves behind great-niece Christina Carr, great-grandnieces Lucienne and Mitra, and great-grandnephews Lucan and Arman.  She was preceded in death by her wife and partner of 60 years, Christine Reynolds, her parents, Henry and Lucile Warner, two sisters, Myra (Tatter) Nichols and Louise (Webe) Warner and nephew George (Chip) Nichols.  She also leaves behind a large community of dear friends and colleagues. 

In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution in support of either of the following: 

The Nancy E. Warner Fund:  This award recognizes excellence in a fourth-year medical student pursuing a career in pathology.  In honor of Warner, donations can be made online here.  

The USC Emeriti Center Endowment Fund:  This fund supports retired USC faculty and staff in living healthy and purposeful lives through inclusive intergenerational education, service and advocacy. Donations can be made here. For more information or to donate by phone, call (213) 740-7121.