July 10, 1892-April 4, 1974
BY H. SHERWOOD LAWRENCE
AS HAPPENS SO OFTEN in science, it is one of life's little ironies that William S. Tillett's discovery of the bacterial protein streptokinase and his revolutionary idea of enzymatic therapy of thromboembolic disease had to take so long to reach its full flowering and current successful clinical application in the treatment of coronary thrombosis on a global scale. Yet Tillett never doubted the ultimate outcome or flagged in his pursuit of this idea. He had conceived, explored, and fostered this enzyme's unique thrombolytic applications with the broad vision, gifted intuition, and unerring precision which characterized all of his investigative work. This early major discovery was to become a constant preoccupation and a source of particular pleasure in his mature scientific life, yet he had discovered joy in nature long before.
Tillett's love and reverence of nature had its origins in his childhood in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he was born on July 10, 1892. The youngest of four sons, his early years were spent happily midst a warm, devoted, and loving family reinforced by close ties with his older brothers, whom he admired greatly. His father, Charles Walter Tillett, was a successful and highly respected lawyer, and his mother, Carrie Patterson, was a physician's daughter. As a young-