Dr. Lee Terrell Nesbitt, Jr.
Dr. Lee Terrell Nesbitt, Jr., of New Orleans, Louisiana, passed away on March 22, 2014 in Dallas, Texas at the age of 72.
Lee was born on May 2, 1941, in Gaffney, South Carolina, the only child of Dr. Lee Terrell Nesbitt, Sr. and Natka Webb. He spent his early years in South Carolina where his father was a physician, and then moved to Rayne, Louisiana where his mother had been reared. Lee descended from a long line of Webbs, the first an English sailor, John Webb, who survived the 1805 sea battle of Trafalgar to come to America—and Louisiana—to be the first person known to have settled on the Acadia side of the River Mermentau in 1827. Lee’s family has a long line of physicians, including his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Rufus Clyde Webb who was elected Acadia Parish Coroner and opened Rayne’s first hospital in 1914. Lee graduated from Rayne High School in 1959 where he was the valedictorian and president of his senior class. He was voted “Most Likely to Succeed,” garnered the American Legion Award and won five academic college scholarships. He entered Tulane University and received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1963, where he was a member of Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity, and remained at Tulane to earn his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1966.
Lee met the love of his life, Yvette Yenni, while in medical school and they married in 1967. Soon after, they were stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, where Lee was a captain in the Air Force. It is while in the Air Force that he was given the opportunity to become the “base expert” in dermatology. He spent countless hours reading dermatologic textbooks and became fascinated by the study of skin diseases. This led to his return to New Orleans where he began an internship and subsequently a residency in dermatology that he completed in 1972. It was during this time period that Lee and Yvette had two children, Julye and Terrell.
Lee initially moved his family to Baton Rouge where he was in a private practice for a short time, but soon returned to New Orleans where he began a private practice at Jo Ellen Smith Memorial Hospital in Algiers. He joined the full-time faculty at LSU Health Sciences Center in 1972 and was a research investigator at the Veterans Administration Hospital, with investigations in lupus erythematosus and other immunologic skin disorders. He was named Acting Chief of the Department of Dermatology at Tulane School of Medicine from 1977 to 1981, where he became Clinical Professor of Dermatology, all the while continuing to maintain a full-time clinical practice. He continued professorships at both LSU and Tulane University Schools of Medicine to the time of his death and was named Head of the Department of Dermatology at LSU in 1988. In 1998, he was named the Henry Jolly Professor of Dermatology at LSU Health Sciences Center. He was twice named President of the Louisiana Dermatological Society, served for nine years as a Director of the American Board of Dermatology of which he was President from 2000-2001, and served for two terms on the Residency Review Committee in Dermatology. He was selected into membership of the American Dermatological Association, the country's oldest honorary dermatological organization, in 1985, and served on its Board of Directors from 1999 to the time of his death and as president in 2005. In 2007 he was honored as the fourth recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Medical Dermatology Society. He was a member of numerous other organizations in dermatology and ancillary fields, and has served on numerous committees and task forces within the specialty. He authored countless publications. In all of these positions he had the opportunity to teach dozens of residents in dermatology, acting as a mentor and friend and developing another generation of compassionate, motivated physicians. He leaves behind scores of colleagues who were inspired by his love of learning and his genuine friendship and humanity.
When not involved in academic pursuits, Lee had a lifelong love of sports. He held Saints season tickets for over 40 years and was elated to finally see the Saints win a Super bowl. He attended hundreds of Tulane football and basketball games, and most recently held season tickets for the Hornets/Pelicans. He was a sincere friend to many and, along with Yvette, delighted in organizing parties and get-togethers. He was a dedicated father, teaching his children and grandchildren the importance of work ethic and honesty.
Lee is predeceased by his parents, Dr. Lee Terrell Nesbitt, Sr. and Natka Webb Nesbitt and his wife of 35 years, Yvette Yenni Nesbitt. He is survived by his daughter, Dr. Julye Nesbitt Carew and her husband Patrick, of Dallas, TX; his son, Lee Terrell Nesbitt, III of New Orleans, LA; his grandchildren, Mitchell and Connor Carew of Dallas, TX; his sister-in-law, Carolyn Yenni Lemoine of Cottonport, LA; his nephews, Gano Dominic Lemoine, III of Portland, OR, and Jean-Louis Lemoine of Lafayette, LA; and his companion of the last five years, Kim LeBlanc and her daughter Alexis of Mandeville, LA.
Visitation will be held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Friday, March 28, 2014 at Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home, 5100 Pontchartrain Boulevard, New Orleans, LA 70124. A memorial mass will be held immediately following at 2 p.m., with his lifelong friend, Monsignor Allen Roy as the celebrant. A private burial will occur at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to LSUHSC Foundation, memo line: In memory of Lee T. Nesbitt, Jr, M.D., LSUHSC Department of Dermatology, 1542 Tulane Ave., Room 639, New Orleans, LA 70112.