Thomas Norval Hepburn (1879 – 1962)

Thomas Hepburn

Thomas Norval Hepburn was born in Virginia, attended medical school at John Hopkins University in Maryland, and moved to Hartford Connecticut after accepting at internship at Hartford Hospital. Upon completing the internship, Dr. Hepburn accepted a permanent position at the hospital. Over the next several years, Dr. Hepburn established a Urology Department at Hartford Hospital, headed up the department and became the state’s first urologist.

He was committed to educating his patients and the community about venereal diseases and advocated for women to have access to birth control. He co-founded the Connecticut Social Hygiene Association, which was dedicated to improving health and eliminating sexually transmitted diseases and infections.

Dr. Hepburn met his wife Katharine “Kit” Houghton Hepburn in Maryland. They had six children, the second oldest and most notable being Katharine Hepburn. Their son Richard was a well-known playwright and son Robert followed in his father’s footsteps becoming a urologist and practicing at Hartford Hospital.

Only months after Kit’s death in 1951, Dr. Hepburn married Madeline Santa Croce. Dr. Hepburn had met Madeline years earlier while she was caring for her dying father at Hartford Hospital. He had commented that she would make an excellent nurse to which she replied that she only had an eighth grade education. In response, Dr. Hepburn paid for her to complete her schooling, and she became one of Dr. Hepburn’s surgical nurses.

Among his accomplishments, Dr. Hepburn helped to establish Kingswood School in Avon, Connecticut, which was one of the nation’s first independent day schools. He died on November 20, 1962.

Britton, Andrew. Katharine Hepburn: Star as Feminist. Columbia University Press, New York, 1984, pp. 41. Accessed at on August 25, 2010.
Kate the Great. Robert Hepburn and Dr. Hepburn. Accessed at on August 25, 2010.
Leaming, Barbara. Katharine Hepburn. Crown Publishers, Inc. New York, 1985, pp. 451 Accessed at on August 25, 2010.
Wikipedia. American Social Health Association. Accessed at on August 25, 2010.

Photo Credit: Thomas Hepburn, Public Domain