Tribute to David L. Chadwick, MD (1926 – 2020)


David L. Chadwick died peacefully Sunday, January 19th, 2020 surrounded by his loving family and wife, Michele, at their home in La Mesa, California. David was a giant in the child maltreatment field and one of APSAC’s strongest champions and supporters. He was one of APSAC’s core founders and served as APSAC’s second president. He is the first former APSAC president to pass away.

During APSAC’s first few months of existence, David successfully pushed for the new multidisciplinary society to address all forms of child abuse and neglect rather than primarily focusing on sexual abuse which catalyzed its formation. He bolstered APSAC’s initial membership by including membership in APSAC as part of the registration fee for the annual San Diego child abuse conference that he had started in January of 1986.

David was a brilliant and remarkable physician whose career spanned more than 60 years.

He became interested in the study and prevention of child abuse early in his education, serving as medical student intern in 1949 under pediatric chief resident, Henry Kempe (who later became one of the world’s foremost pioneers in identifying and treating child abuse) while both trained at the University of California San Francisco.

After an infectious disease fellowship and service in the Air Force, David joined the pediatric medical staff of Los Angeles Children’s Hospital in 1958 where he met Helen Boardman, the hospital’s only social worker, who compelled him to address child abuse. He left Los Angeles Children’s in 1968 to become the first employed physician and first Medical Director of San Diego Children’s Hospital. In 1985, David founded the San Diego Children’s Hospital Center for Child Protection, leaving his position as Hospital Medical Director to become the Center’s Director. That center, now the Rady Children’s Chadwick Center for Children and Families continues to provide many services to maltreated children and their families. The Center continues to host an international child and family maltreatment conference that attracts 2,000 attendees from around the world each January.