Marshall School of Medicine Dean Emeritus Charles McKown passes away at 89

Known for one of the longest medical school deanships on record, Dr. Charles McKown leaves legacy on Marshall's health sciences footprint
Dr. Charles McKown

Charles “Charley” H. McKown Jr., M.D., dean emeritus at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, passed away Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, at the age of 89.

Survivors include his wife, Sherry Wilson McKown; daughter, Dr. Sheri Mouw, and her husband, Ted Mouw; and four grandchildren, Arthur, Ella, Clara and Lucy.

Born and raised in Wayne County, West Virginia, McKown graduated in 1952 from Wayne High School, where he was an outstanding athlete. He later earned his Bachelor of Science from West Virginia University in Morgantown, before pursuing his medical degree at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond. Following his medical training, McKown served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and the U.S. Public Health Service.

In 1976, McKown assumed the role of chair of the Department of Radiology at the Marshall University School of Medicine, later becoming vice president of Health Sciences and dean in 1989. During his nearly 23-year tenure as dean, McKown oversaw significant growth and development at the medical school, including the expansion of its health sciences footprint and the construction of several new clinical, educational and research facilities. Beginning in 1998 and throughout the decade that followed, the School of Medicine saw the completion of five new clinical, educational and research buildings with an investment of more than $120 million, including the Marshall University Medical Center, Robert C. Byrd Biotechnology Science Center, Erma Ora Byrd Clinical Center and Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Under his leadership, the School of Medicine experienced tremendous progress, with the establishment of new specialty service lines, residency and fellowship training programs and an exceptional clinical and basic science faculty. A board-certified physician in diagnostic radiology and radiation oncology, McKown’s efforts also played a pivotal role in strengthening partnerships with teaching hospitals and fostering translational research initiatives.

Beyond his contributions to medical education and health care, McKown was deeply involved in community service, serving on the Greater Huntington Parks and Recreation board for 43 years and receiving numerous awards for his outstanding contributions, including the Special Community Impact Award from The Herald-Dispatch in 2009.

In recognition of his dedication and achievements, the medical school named 10,000 square feet of research space the Charles H. McKown, M.D., Translational Genomic Research Institute in 2011. McKown’s philanthropic endeavors were instrumental in securing support for the medical school, including the transformative contributions of Joan C. Edwards, which led to the renaming of the institution as the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine in 2000.

Following a remarkable tenure as dean, McKown transitioned into a new role as vice president of Health Sciences Advancement in 2011, continuing to support the philanthropic efforts of the school’s administration. In 2023, Marshall University recognized McKown with the designation of dean emeritus, a distinguished honor reserved for individuals whose service to the institution has been deemed of extraordinary merit.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Marshall University Foundation for the Charles H. McKown Jr., M.D., Scholarship at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, c/o Linda Holmes, 1600 Medical Center Drive, Huntington, WV 25701. Gifts may also be made online at




About the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine 

The Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine is a community-based medical school established in 1977. Located in Huntington, West Virginia, the School of Medicine trains physicians, scientists and other professionals to meet the unique health care needs of rural and underserved communities. Learn more at



Media Contact

Sheanna Spence
Marshall Health/ Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine

Recent Releases