LAWLESS, THEODORE KENNETH (1892–1971), Chicago, dermatologist, businessman, philanthropist.
While a medical doctor, Theodore Lawless also was involved in banking and real estate. His success in his private practice and his business activities eventually made him a millionaire and enhanced his philanthropy.* After receiving his B.A. from Talladega University in 1914, Lawless, who was born in Thibodeaux, Louisiana, left the South to further his education. He earned his M.D. from Northwestern University in 1919 and pursued extensive postdoctoral work, spending a year each at Columbia University (1920) and Harvard University (1921). Then, from 1921 to 1924, Lawless attended the University of Paris, the University of Freiburg, and the University of Vienna, where he also continued his research in dermatology.
After his international training ended, Lawless returned to Chicago in 1924, where he established his medical practice in dermatology, generally charging only $3, while his peers were charging from three to five times that sum per visit. Lawless often had dozens of patients lined up down the street outside his South Side office. Also, he would see people without appointments, and veterans of foreign wars were seen regardless of their ability to pay. His patients were from all ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds. Lawless was on the faculty at Northwestern University from 1924 to 1941, while continuing his private practice. Yet notwithstanding his reputation as an internationally renowned researcher and physician, he was passed over for a promotion for which he felt he was deserving. He left in 1941.
From 1945 to 1953, while continuing his medical practice, Lawless was pres-