O’MALLEY, GEORGE PATRICK (1 Aug. 1888 - 6 Sept. 1941) was a widely known Cleveland physician. Educated initially in parochial schools in the West Side neighborhood where he grew up, he earned a bachelor's degree at Ohio Wesleyan. He then graduated from the medical school at Western Reserve University (see: CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY).

After traveling to Europe to obtain advanced training as a surgeon, he returned to become one of the first physicians hired at the newly created ST. JOHN HOSPITAL on the city's west side.

In April 1917 Dr. O'Malley's career took an unexpected turn. The United States entered WWI. A week later he joined the army and went to Washington D. C. to begin his military training.

He went overseas and found himself assigned to a British Royal Army Infantry Regiment, the Seventh Royal Sussex Regiment, British Expeditionary Force, where he saw extensive combat. In August 1918, in a small town in Belgium, he found himself under heavy small arms fire. Faced with a number of soldiers whose wounds rendered them helpless, he resolved to rescue them under fire at considerable risk of his own life. He made three trips under intense rifle and machine fire. Several men who tried to assist him were killed or wounded. Dr. O'Malley continued his rescue operations until the men he was responsible for were removed to a place of safety.

For his actions on this day he was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross. British authorities followed suit by awarding him a Distinguished Service Order.

When he found himself in a similar situation several weeks later he earned a second Distinguished Service Order, making him a rare example of a soldier who wore a DSO and Bar.

A captain at the time of these events, he finished the war as a major. He was thirty years old.
Recovering from the effects of exposure to poison gas, he returned to Cleveland and St. John Hospital.

In 1920 he became police surgeon, serving the CLEVELAND POLICE DEPARTMENT in this capacity until 1941. In 1931 he became chief of surgery at St. John Hospital.

Dr. O'Malley was very active in veterans affairs, serving as the head of the American Legion locally. He also established a legion post to serve veterans employed by the CPD.

In September 1941, he awoke afflicted by chest pains. He called his personal physician to his home on Clifton Blvd. in LAKEWOOD. He suffered a heart attack, and rescuers from the LFD were unable to revive him. He was fifty three years old.

After a funeral mass at St. John Cathedral, he was buried next to his mother in Calvary Cemetery. Upon his death his great friend and colleague, CPD Chief GEORGE MATOWITZ remarked, "Dr. O'Malley was one of the finest men I have ever known, in or out of the police department."

Matowitz family tradition has always maintained that Dr. O'Malley's example inspired the chief's son Clayton ( see Clayton Matowitz ) to become a physician, following his friend and mentor to pursue a long career on the staff of St. John Hospital himself.

Dr. O'Malley's friends and colleagues on the CPD had a memorial plaque made to honor him. It was displayed in the Central Police Station, and eventually the Justice Center, where it may be seen in the Cleveland Police Museum.


Tom Matowitz

Last updated: 10/6/2023


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