Burn Center Pioneer Dies at Age 103
John Stackhouse founded the center with electric co-ops nearly 40 years ago
Video courtesy of UNC Surgery
John Woods Stackhouse passed away February 17 at Wayne UNC Health Care. He was 103. In the 1970s, Stackhouse worked with electric co-ops and other organizations to create the NC Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals (see “Improving the World, One Patient at a Time,” February 2019, page 4).
Stackhouse was born in South Carolina and started working summers at Carolina Power & Light when he was only 15; his first job was washing streetlights for five cents an hour. In the 1930s, he worked as a lineman for the company before heading into the Navy to serve in WWII. He later started his own construction businesses, contracting with electric companies to put up power lines, creating Stackhouse Incorporated.
“North Carolinians are blessed to have such a world class facility in our state that has served thousands of burn victims over the years. We owe Mr. Stackhouse a great debt of gratitude for not only recognizing this need, but working to make it a reality.”
Burns were an unfortunate reality during Stackhouse’s long career in the power business. He recalls early on having a hard time finding adequate care for employees who suffered burns.
“Back then, a seriously burned patient never returned to work or even to productivity for that matter,” he said. “Just to return them to the task of living was a continuous struggle.”
In the 1970s, he set out to improve burn care and pledged $40,000 to do so, with the board of the Rural Electric Association voting to match it. Stackhouse lobbied other organizations, and many groups that had seen the effects of burns — such as firefighter and electrical organizations — joined the effort.
The groundbreaking for the Burn Center was January 15, 1977, and Stackhouse’s vision came to fruition when the center officially opened on February 23, 1981.
“Through Mr. Stackhouse’s vision, relentless efforts and monetary contributions, the NC Jaycee Burn Center was formed as a critically important department within the UNC Hospital,” said Dale Lambert, CEO of Randolph EMC and a member of the Burn Center Advisory Board. “North Carolinians are blessed to have such a world class facility in our state that has served thousands of burn victims over the years. We owe Mr. Stackhouse a great debt of gratitude for not only recognizing this need, but working to make it a reality.”
More about the NC Jaycee Burn Center