by Gary R. Thurnau, MD
Prior to 1961, the Chairman, as well as other faculty members of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department had never been full time. With the arrival of James A. Merrill, MD, in the spring of 1961, the department underwent a dramatic organization and the residency program achieved a level of unprecedented excellence.
The OU Medical Center annually conducted a statewide Intern and Resident Research Day, during which, papers were presented by residents from various departments and hospitals. The Resident Research Day attracted the return of former OB/GYN residents and an interest in developing a Society of Former Residents of Obstetrics and Gynecology (FROG Society) was generated.
In 1974, a research day separate from that of the University was formulated for the residents in Obstetrics and Gynecology.In its original format, residents presented their papers in conjunction with the department’s Annual Spring Symposium. The departmental Resident Research Day resulted from an experience by Dr. Merrill as a visiting professor. He had participated in a Resident Research Day at another institution, and decided it would be an important learning experience for his residents to have the opportunity to make formal presentations while facing an audience.Dr. Merrill was sure his residents would respond with excellence, and he was correct.
Gordon Jimerson was the organizer and master of ceremonies of the first departmental Resident Research Day, and held these responsibilities for many years thereafter. The first departmental Resident Research Day was greatly enhanced by the fact that Dr. Dick Worley was the chief resident and presented a magnificent program with roasting and praise of the professors, which became a lasting tradition.
The title of “Bengal Tiger” was applied to Dr. Merrill following an extraordinary performance at a medical school gridiron. The student skits were mediocre, and mediocrity was never acceptable to Dr. Merrill. For that reason, he organized a mutiny, which included himself, a surgeon, Dr. Gil Campbell, and a pathologist, Dr. William Jaques. They took over the stage and gave an impromptu performance. The story has it that Campbell had worked in a nightclub as a singer and dancer. Merrill was a thespian par excellence, and Jaques was a lover. All were teachers extraordinaire. Campbell sang, Merrill told stories and Jaques… well no one discusses what Jaques did. One of Dr. Merrill’s stories involved a Bengal tiger. Having imbibed in a sufficient quantity of “sauce,” he related the story of a British white hunter in pursuit of the Bengal tiger in India. Because it seemed to fit his personality, Dr. Merrill thus became “The Bengal Tiger.” Based on this incident, and joint efforts of Guy Fuller, Audrey McMaster and Gordon Jimerson, a decision was made that the Society of Former Residents in Obstetrics and Gynecology (FROG) be renamed the Bengal Residents of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Thus, from the acronym FROG to BROG was just a short hop-or leap, depending on your vantage point.
The excitement resulted in obtaining a pin of identification-the Bengal Tiger. Therefore, each graduating resident was presented with an appropriate Bengal pin and the departmental Resident Research Day came to be known as Tiger Day.
The following is an excerpt from a letter written by Gordon Jimerson in regard to Tiger Day and the BROG Society.
“These are among my fondest memories and proudest accomplishments. I am delighted with the efforts to renew support and interest from former residents.I know the present residents have carried on a proud tradition and are deserving of our support.”