William Albert Spencer born on February 16, 1922 in Oklahoma City. He went to Georgetown University for his Bachelor’s degree and was first in his class in medical school at John Hopkins University. Beginning in 1951 Dr. Spencer would lead staff at Baylor College of Medicine to address the polio epidemic. This research paved the way for Baylor to become one of the most prominent rehabilitation facilities in the country. He would become founder of The Institute of Rehabilitation and Research, or TIRR, which opened its doors on May 30, 1959. Today the hospital is officially part of the Memorial Hermann Hospital system. Throughout his life Dr. Spencer would treat patients, often children and young adults, and conduct research regarding traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injuries. Dr. Spencer served twenty-eight years as TIRR’s president and became known as the “Father of Modern Rehabilitation”; hospitals around the globe modeled their rehabilitation programs after it (Wendler, 2009, p.16). The TIRR was a facility ahead of its time under Dr.Spencer’s leadership. After the development of personal computers, Dr.Spencer petitioned IBM to link the computers (now known as networking) at TIRR and Baylor College of Medicine.
In his nonmedical life, Dr. Spencer would tinker with a number of inventions or other projects. These engineering projects would lead him to develop the physiography, which ended up being an early version of its predecessor the EKG. Dr. Spencer was married twice, first to Helen Hart in 1945 and then to Jean Amspoker in 1984. Jean predeceased him in 2005. Dr. Spencer died on February 18, 2009.