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Carson D. Schneck, mentor and honored anatomy professor at Temple, dies at 88

He spent more than 50 years inspiring students, and the Carson D. Schneck Gross Anatomy Laboratory is named in his honor.

Dr. Schneck and his wife, Freda, were married for 65 years.
Dr. Schneck and his wife, Freda, were married for 65 years.Read moreCourtesy of the family

Carson D. Schneck, 88, of Quakertown, an anatomy professor at Temple University for more than five decades, a medical pioneer and mentor to countless doctors, and for whom a laboratory on campus was named, died Sunday, Nov. 7, of complications from dementia at home.

Labeled a “legend” by Amy J. Goldberg, interim dean of Temple’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Dr. Schneck graduated from Temple’s medical school in 1959 and went on to teach gross anatomy, histology, embryology, neuroanatomy, and other courses to more than 10,000 students over 52 years.

“We always said that when God created man, he consulted Carson Schneck first,” a former student said in a 2008 article in Temple Medicine.

Dr. Schneck won many awards, including the 1988 Alpha Omega Alpha Distinguished Teacher’s Award, Temple’s Great Teacher Award, and more than a dozen Golden Apple awards from the American Medical Student Association for excellence in the classroom.

His favorite accolades came from closest to home. “To receive an award from a national organization is not the same as receiving an award from the students I love,” he said in a story for the 2013 Temple school of medicine yearbook.

His students did honor him. Four classes dedicated their medical school yearbooks to Dr. Schneck, and an online tribute page is loaded with poignant memories of his interactions with students and faculty.

“He made learning interesting and fun,” one former student wrote. “Watching him teach us was an art,” said another. They recalled his ever-present smile, boundless enthusiasm, and passion for teaching. His devotees called him an “anatomy guru” and themselves “Schneckees.”

Engaging, Dr. Schneck would spend a weekend each August memorizing student IDs, and he shocked many of them by knowing their names on the first day of class. Animated, he liked to climb atop tables during lectures so everyone could see him demonstrate anatomical walking disorders.

He made it a point to seek out and help disadvantaged students. “I think it’s important in teaching to get to know the students as people,” he told Temple Now in 2008.

He was an expert in dissecting cadavers, routinely worked 100-hour weeks, and, seeking to help others more than make money, gave away all his notes to students when he retired in 2012.

Pioneering, he described a new potential cause of thoracic outlet syndrome, helped define the proper placement of lumbar screws and plates, and developed protocols for using magnetic resonance imaging on arms and legs.

He was a consultant to other experts, wrote many scientific papers, and advised the Temple administration on curriculum, faculty affairs, alumni relations, and other issues. In 2009, the lab at the new Medical Education and Research Building opened as the Carson D. Schneck Gross Anatomy Laboratory, and a scholarship in his name was created.

Born Oct. 10, 1933, in Allentown, Dr. Schneck graduated from Muhlenberg College in 1955 and was second in his graduating class at Temple’s school of medicine four years later. He interned at Frankford Hospital, and joined the Temple faculty as instructor of anatomy in 1961.

He earned a doctorate in anatomy and cell biology at Temple in 1965, and became a full professor in 1974 and professor of diagnostic imaging in 1986. He met Freda Helmer in high school, and they married in 1956, lived in Hatboro and Quakertown, and had daughters Deborah and Stephanie.

Off the Temple clock, Dr. Schneck taught adult Sunday school, sang tenor in the church choir, and was a volunteer on the Milford Township Planning Commission for 43 years. He liked to run, travel, devour chocolate, and garden on his 20-acre property. He had heart bypass surgery in 1992.

“He had a generosity of spirit and a passionate desire to understand and think about things,” said his daughter Deborah Lambert.

He also had a sense of humor. One former student recalled Dr. Schneck correcting him this way: “No, it’s prostate, not prostrate. Prostrate will be what you’re doing after my exam.”

In addition to his wife and daughters, Dr. Schneck is survived by three grandchildren, and other relatives.

Services were Nov. 12.

Donations in his name may be made to the Carson Schneck, M.D., Ph.D. Endowed Scholarship Fund, Temple University Institutional Advancement, P.O. Box 827651, Philadelphia, Pa. 19182-7651. Please write “Schneck, MD, PhD Endowed Scholarship Fund (S4321)” on the memo line.