Fletcher, John C.

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John C. Fletcher, son of Robert and Estelle Fletcher, was born on 1 November 1931 in Bryan, Texas. He attended the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., and graduated with a B.A. in English literature in 1953. He completed a Masters in Divinity degree from the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1956 and was ordained in the Episcopal Church. In 1956 to 1957, he attended the University of Heidelberg on a Fulbright scholarship, translating Deitrich Bonhoeffer's Creation and Fall into English. In 1969, he earned a PhD degree in Christian Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York. He married Adele Davis Woodall in September 1954. (His younger sister is Louise Fletcher, the winner of the Best Actress Academy Award in 1975 for portraying Nurse Ratched in the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest .)

After ordination, he was assistant rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Birmingham, Alabama. He was subsequently appointed Chaplain of Washington & Lee University while serving as rector at the Lee Memorial Episcopal Church in Lexington. He later became a member of the faculty at the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, where his interest in medical ethics was first passed on to his many students.

In 1987, Dr. Fletcher became the Founding Director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. In 1999, he retired as Kornfeld Professor of Biomedical Ethics but continued to speak and write in the field of biomedical ethics. He was elected Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Ethics in Internal Medicine at the University of Virginia in 1999.

Fletcher authored many texts in the field of medical ethics, including An Introduction to Clinical Ethics . He received many awards for his work and dedication to his field. The University of the South, his alma mater, awarded Dr. Fletcher an honorary degree of Civil Laws in 1993. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities in 2000.

Dr. Fletcher drowned (suicide) on 27 May 2004 in Keswick, Virginia.

From the guide to the John C. Fletcher paper MSS. 0522., 1970 May 14, (University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Autograph File, F, 1447-1994. Houghton Library
creatorOf John C. Fletcher paper MSS. 0522., 1970 May 14 University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama
referencedIn Paul Ramsey Papers, 1934-1984 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn Freund, Paul A. Paul A. Freund papers. 1918-1993. Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Paul A. Freund person
correspondedWith Ramsey, Paul person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Religion and Spirituality
Technology and Industry
Industrial revolution--United States
Youth--United States


Birth 1900




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