Orthopedic surgery resident follows in the footsteps of his grandfather, half a century later

Although William “Bill” Daner III, M.D., never met his grandfather, he is often reminded of him.

William “Bill” Daner III, M.D.
William “Bill” Daner III, M.D.

Bill, a current Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine resident in orthopedic surgery, became interested in surgery at a young age after hearing stories about his namesake, the first William Daner, who earned his M.D. from the Medical College of Virginia in 1941 and later became an associate professor of orthopedic surgery with the School of Medicine.

Training on the MCV Campus has provided Bill with more than an opportunity to pursue the same calling as his grandfather; it has given him the chance to get to know the man he never met.

Since coming to VCU, Bill has met several faculty members who are familiar with his grandfather’s reputation and career, and invariably they describe him as a quiet, well-respected and dedicated surgeon. Through these faculty members and some of his own research, Bill has learned a lot about his grandfather’s life and medical career.

The elder Daner served with the medical corps in the Italian and North African theaters of World War II with the 45th General Hospital, an army hospital that was organized and staffed by doctors and nurses from MCV. After the war, Daner returned home and completed his specialty training at the McGuire Veterans Affairs Hospital.

William Daner, Sr., M’41
William Daner, Sr., M’41

He went on to have a distinguished career in Richmond, where he served as an associate professor with MCV and as the chief of orthopedics at Johnston-Willis Hospital and the Crippled Children’s Hospital. He was also one of the founding members of the West End Orthopedic Clinic, now known as OrthoVirginia, a distinction that earns him a special place in central Virginia medical history.

In an interesting parallel, one of the practice’s other founders, R.D. Butterworth, M.D., who graduated in 1931 from MCV, also has a close relative on the MCV Campus: John F. Butterworth IV, M.D., a 1979 MCV graduate and professor and chair of the Department of Anesthesia, whose father John F. Butterworth III, M.D., a 1952 MCV graduate, practiced with the West End Orthopedic Clinic beginning in 1957.

While former colleagues and family history helped relay the basic facts of his grandfather’s life, Bill’s time at VCU has given him the opportunity to see the first Dr. Daner from another perspective: that of his patients. On two separate occasions, Bill said, patients have recognized the name on his badge and connected him to his grandfather. Bill says that getting to care for these former patients has “made me feel closer to my grandfather.”  

The patients told Bill that his grandfather was a “great physician” who was always considerate and kind. That sentiment was echoed by the Richmond Academy of Medicine’s comments on William Daner after his death in 1976: William Daner “was an outstanding diagnostician and skilled surgeon. He was a kind man, always considerate of the feeling and anxieties of his patients.”   

For his part, Bill says he strives to live up to the reputation for skill and compassion that his grandfather built in the Richmond medical community and on the MCV Campus, a reputation that still exists almost 40 years after William Daner’s death.


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