Carrol S. Small, M.D., taught at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine from 1937 to 1997, except for seven years of mission service in India.
Carrol Small was born in Davidson, Saskatchewan, Canada, on September 16, 1910, to David and Jesse Hardy Small.1 His working class parents read widely and a copy of Signs of the Times magazine they received in 1914 prompted them to attend evangelistic meetings in Regina, Saskatchewan, where they joined the Seventh-day Adventist church.2
In 1916 the family emigrated to Indiana where David Small rented a 50-acre farm outside Indianapolis, near his mother’s relatives. Carrol did so well in school that he was twice allowed to take two grades in one year, and he graduated as valedictorian of his eighth grade class at the age of 11. Again class valedictorian when he graduated from high school four years later in 1926, 15-year-old Carrol was offered a full, four-year college scholarship at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. He turned it down, though, when school officials informed him he would have to attend classes on Saturday. He decided to attend an Adventist college instead, enrolling at Emmanuel Missionary College (later Andrews University) in Berrien Springs, Michigan.
At one time Carrol considered becoming a minister. But he liked science subjects so well that he decided to study for a career in medicine. He completed all the requirements to be accepted into medical school at the end of two years. The College of Medical Evangelists (later Loma Linda University School of Medicine) would not admit him at the tender age of 18, requiring him to take a third year of college, after which he was allowed to enroll in 1929.
Small’s most remarkable experience during medical school occurred when he was working in the clinical laboratory at the White Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles. The School of Nursing sent in about 30 of its student nurses for blood counts needed to obtain the certificates of good health they needed to work at the local Children’s Hospital. As he drew blood from all 30, one in particular attracted his attention – Lucile Montaney, a farm girl from Kulm, North Dakota.3 Socially timid, Carrol waited six months before taking the initiative, inviting Lucile to accompany him at the junior class dinner. They married fourteen months later, on August 7, 1932.
Small earned the highest score among 700 medical students nationwide on Part 1 of the National Board Examinations, taken upon completion of his third year of medical school. After graduating in June 1933, he took an internship at Grant Hospital, a 120-bed facility in Columbus, Ohio. Following the internship, Small joined the staff of a psychiatric hospital in Athens, Ohio, as an “assistant physician,” a position arranged with the help of George Harding III, M.D., a 1928 graduate of the College of Medical Evangelists (CME).
Professor and Pathologist
It was at his next position, taken fourteen months later, at Hinsdale Sanitarium, an Adventist institution just outside of Chicago, that Dr. Small entered his specialty – pathology. To get the preparation needed for the Hinsdale position, he took a six-week intensive course at the Cook County Post-Graduate School of Medicine at Cook County Hospital, a 3,000-bed charity hospital in Chicago, followed by several more months of training at the University of Illinois Hospital.
At Hinsdale Sanitarium, Small taught nursing students on Sundays. He learned that he liked teaching and that he was able to make his lectures entertaining. The opportunity to teach full-time came in 1937 when he joined the pathology department faculty at CME. In addition to teaching, CME pathologists did the pathology for Loma Linda Sanitarium. As the only pathologists between Pomona, California and Phoenix, Arizona, they also visited other hospitals twice a week. Performing autopsies for the San Bernardino County Coroner’s Office developed into another major responsibility. Because of his skill at making matters plain to lay audiences, Dr. Small was also called upon to lecture on health principles at Adventist camp meetings during the summers and gave his series of presentations at approximately 30 of them over 10 years.
When an automobile accident killed Dr. Oran I. Butler in 1941, Small succeeded him as chair of the pathology department, serving in that role until 1962. Small was an outspoken opponent of the sentiment for changing CME’s name that emerged in the 1940s and 1950s. Alumni faced skepticism about whether an institution named “College of Medical Evangelists” was really a bona fide school of medicine whose graduates became board-certified physicians, but Dr. Small contended that questions about the name represented an opportunity to explain the school’s purpose and principles. Yet he also recognized that the name did create genuine difficulties for alumni in the professional world. The College of Medical Evangelists became Loma Linda University (LLU) on July 1, 1961.
In 1958, Christian Medical College, in Vellore, India, invited Dr. Small to teach as a fill in for one year. He became a regular mission appointee of the Seventh-day Adventist church, working among missionaries of about 40 other Protestant churches. Despite the opposition of some who were suspicious of Adventists as “sheep stealers” seeking to convert members of other Christian churches, Vellore found both the tuition dollars of Adventist students and the expertise of Adventist faculty members beneficial. Eventually, “they warmed up and accepted us as equals; Christian brothers and sisters,” Small said. He was asked to stay for a second year and, after two years back at Loma Linda, he returned to India for another five years at Vellore.
Upon returning to California in 1967, Small served a year as pathologist-in-chief at the Riverside General Hospital and University Medical Center, which was part of Loma Linda’s teaching sphere, and then returned to the Loma Linda campus full time in 1968. He served as editor of the Alumni Journal published by the LLU School of Medicine Alumni Association for nine years (1975-1984). He was also editor of the school’s 75th anniversary book, Diamond Memories.4
Lucile Small died at the age of 78 in Loma Linda on May 30, 1983, after battling lymphoma discovered the previous year. She and Carrol had celebrated their 50th and last wedding anniversary on August 7, 1982.5 Their two children both became physicians: David, the eldest, a surgeon at Kettering Medical Center near Dayton, Ohio, and Mary an obstetrician at LLU Medical Center.
In 1984, Dr. Small married Edna Mabel Pohlman, a widow and college classmate, who also had worked in India. They were married for 13 years until both died in Loma Linda during the same month – August 1997. Edna Mabel, 91, passed away on August 5 due to pneumonia, and Carrol, 86, died of heart failure on August 23.6
Dr. Small continued teaching until May 1997, just a few months before his death, when he was named emeritus professor of pathology. During his nearly sixty years at LLU, Dr. Small taught more than 6,500 students, more than any professor in the school’s history to that time according to university officials. He was repeatedly recognized as teacher of the year.7 In response to a request by B. Lyn Behrens, then LLU president, the 18-member School of Medicine Department of Pathology unanimously voted to fund the 250-seat, $1.5 million Carrol S. Small Amphitheater, opened in the Centennial Complex in 2009.8
At a memorial service on August 30, 1997, Marvin Ponder, a pastor at Loma Linda University church said of Carrol Small:
In the years that I have been at Loma Linda, there’s probably no one that I know who more closely personifies the essential meaning of Loma Linda as Carrol Small. And yet, he is a man who would not have wanted that said about him. He was a truly humble person, a man of great faith.9
When Dr. Small was asked, in an interview conducted late in his life, what advice he would have for his successors, he responded:
Ellen White said in her book, Life Sketches, “We have nothing to fear for the future except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and his teachings in our past history.” So, I would say, let’s chisel that in the door post and never forget.
This advice led Loma Linda University to inscribe Ellen White’s statement in its new Founders Plaza in 2012.10
Carrol S. Small interview. Merlin Burt and Peter Cimpoerou, November 1, 1995. Oral Histories. Archives and Special Collections, Heritage Research Center, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA.
“Dr. Carrol Small obituary.” Riverside Press-Enterprise, August 28, 1997.
Garcia, Maria T. “Dr. Small, wife die 18 days apart.” San Bernardino County Sun, August 29, 1997.
“Lucile Joy Small obituary.” Southern Asia Tidings, August 1983.
“California, County Marriages, 1850-1952,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8J4-2D4: March 9, 2021), Carrol Stanley Small and Lucile Joy Montaney, August 7, 1932.↩
Except where otherwise noted, this article is based on Carrol S. Small, MD, interview by Merlin Burt and Peter Cimpoerou, November 1, 1995, in Oral Histories, Archives and Special Collections, Heritage Research Center, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA.↩
“Lucile Joy Small obituary,” Southern Asia Tidings, August 1983, 14.↩
Maria T. Garcia, “Dr. Small, wife die 18 days apart,” San Bernardino County Sun, August 29, 1997, 21.↩
“Lucile Joy Small obituary.”↩
Garcia, “Dr. Small, wife die 18 days apart.”↩
“Dr. Carrol Small obituary,” Riverside Press-Enterprise, August 28, 1997.↩
Brian S. Bull, M.D., interview by Richard A. Schaefer, April 17, 2018, Oral Histories, Archives and Special Collections, Heritage Research Center, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA.↩
Marvin Ponder, Carrol Small Memorial Service, Loma Linda, California, August 30, 1997.↩
Regarding Founders Plaza, see LLU president Richard Hart’s remarks in “Founders Plaza dedication . . .,” Today, March 16, 2012, 3-4, 6.↩