Donald L. Chatman, M.D. was born in New Orleans, LA, in 1934, the middle son of Dr. Aristotle Lorenzo Quincy Chatman and Eulacie S. Chatman. He was reared in Baton Rouge, LA along with his two brothers, Alfred “Lorenzo” Chatman and Franklin “Lister” Chatman. At the insistence of his parents, who were committed to providing their children with stellar educations, Dr. Chatman attended Mount Hermon School For Boys in Gill, MA, for secondary education, and Harvard University where he earned his A.B. in Physical Anthropology. Following the path of his father and uncle, young Donald earned an M.D. degree at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN and subsequently opened a practice in general medicine in Lake Charles, LA. This was followed by a two-year stint in the United States Air Force where he served his country as a Captain in the Medical Core and was honorably discharged in 1965.
After being honorably discharged from the Air Force, Dr. Chatman decided to pursue a specialty in Obstetrics and Gynecology (“OB-GYN”) and moved to Chicago to complete his residency at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center (“Michael Reese”). In 1969, Dr. Chatman became one of the first African American physicians to be an attending physician in OB-GYNE at Michael Reese. He built a reputation for being a “top flight” doctor and patients under his care consistently received stellar care not only from him, but as a result of his leadership, from all nursing staff and residents associated with his service!
Dr. Chatman’s clinical and research interests included Pelvic Pain, Endometriosis, Endoscopic and Laparoscopic surgery. His research regarding the incidence, care and treatment of Endometriosis challenged the early medical thinking that this disorder did not regularly occur in Black Women and adolescents. Dr. Chatman published widely on these topics, and others, and lectured both nationally and internationally at organizations including the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists (“AAGL”), the International Society for Gynecologic Laparoscopy and the World Congress of Gynecologic Endoscopy. He was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show and Good Morning America and widely recognized for his contributions to the field by his peers. Dr. Chatman served as the first African American Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President and President of the AAGL. In addition, Dr. Chatman served as Associate Editor of the Journal of the AAGL.
Over the years, Dr. Chatman rose in leadership at Michael Reese, serving as Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology on two separate occasions. During his career, he served as an attending physician at South Chicago Community Hospital, Provident Hospital and later, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and Mercy Hospital and Medical Center. At the time of his retirement, Dr. Chatman was an Associate Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine. But, despite his achievements in research, clinical education, and gynecologic surgery, his first love was always delivering babies. Throughout his career, he delivered thousands of babies in the Chicago land area.
In 1989, Dr. Chatman married his soul mate, Linda C. Chatman, and started a new chapter in his life. Although work was always prominent, Dr. Chatman loved spending time with family and friends, playing golf and traveling the world with Linda. He was a running enthusiast and avid reader. Dr. Chatman was also quite social and a long-term member of the social clubs the Saracens and the Chicagoans. Dr. Chatman and Linda frequently supported local causes and organizations, attending social events and fundraisers for causes that enriched their community. At the time of his passing, Dr. Chatman was writing a book memorializing the extraordinary journey of his father, who escaped sharecropping in Louisiana at the age of 14 to pursue his education on his own. Dr. Chatman’s father ultimately completed college and medical school and built an extraordinary medical practice and business empire in Baton Rouge, LA in the 1940s.
Despite Dr. Chatman’s multitude of professional accolades and awards, he considered his greatest accomplishments being a loving husband to Linda, a devoted father to his children, Lynn, “Cee Cee” and Eric Chatman, and an even more devoted grandpa and great-grandpa. He will be remembered as a “one of a kind” physician and a great man who gave his all in his personal and professional life. On Thursday, February 22, 2018, Dr. Chatman passed away suddenly, at home with Linda.
Dr. Chatman was preceded in death by his parents and his brothers. He is survived by his loving and devoted wife, Linda, daughters Lynn Chatman Todman (Michael) and Eleanor Louise Chatman (“Cee Cee”), son, Eric Leveritt Chatman (Angie); in-laws James and Lois Wilson, stepsons Carl R. Golden and Bruce E. Golden (Marie), cousin Fay Green, seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, a host of extended family and friends, and a whole community of grateful patients and families.