MORGANTOWN, WV - A West Virginia University scholarship has been created in honor of a St. Marys native who served as a doctor to multiple NASA astronauts.
Dr. Carl Patrick Laughlin, of St. Marys, graduated from WVU in 1953 with a B.A. in Arts and Sciences, then went to medical school at the University of Maryland.
Following an internship at Case Western University and his graduation from medical school, Dr. Laughlin joined the Air Force as part of the Berry Plan, which allowed doctors to serve two years in the military.
Laughlin served the Air Force as a fighter flight surgeon, working with young pilots such as Gus Grissom, who would go on to be one of the first astronauts.
Following his military service, Patrick returned to Case Western to complete his residency.
However, the chief of Case Western had just been named the new chief of NASA at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and Dr. Laughlin was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime – he was asked to join NASA at Langley in the developmental stages of the agency.
Dr. Laughlin went on to join the Space Task Group as one of the physicians assigned to the original astronauts.
In a NASA video, Dr. Laughlin said,
“I didn’t know quite what it meant at first, but it sounded like an adventure and it surely was."
Dr. Laughlin practiced as a physician until April, 2016, and also served the St. Marys community as a mentor and in leadership roles.
After he passed away in November 2016 at the age of 85, Dr. Laughlin's family and friends created the C. Patrick Laughlin Endowed Scholarship, to help WVU students pursuing medical school.
Dr. Laughlin's brother, David Laughlin, said,
“He was a remarkable doctor, and our hope is that the scholarship will encourage someone else to follow in his tradition of excellence."
After Dr. Laughlin’s passing, 39 people donated to the scholarship fund to pay tribute to his legacy and memory.