Honoring Dr. Sherman Master

July 4, 1935 - August 14, 2019

In Loving Memory of Dr. Sherman Master - Friend, Colleague, Mentor


Dear patients, colleagues and friends – we’ve created this page and this forum to honor and commemorate our co-founder, partner, mentor and friend, Dr. Sherman Master. We knew that we wouldn’t have him forever but were still saddened to let him go – especially knowing that we all still had so much more to learn from him. Now it’s our duty to remember him, the things he shared with us and the example he set and we’d like to invite all of you who knew him to do the same.

Sherman’s contributions to psychiatry and the cause of treatment for addiction are remarkable and well known. In the course of his career, he has served as the director of nearly every psychiatric institution in Richmond and, as his career progressed, he became nationally-known as the leader of an impressive list of addiction treatment programs. He was characteristically humble when asked how he came to focus on treating patients with addiction, always denying any kind of superior vision or master plan. I believe that he was drawn to the field of addiction psychiatry for the same reasons patients were drawn to him – because of his extraordinary compassion and empathy.

Knowing and working with Dr. Master has been one of the greatest pleasures of my professional life. I first met him as a patient and in humbling circumstances; but, from the very start I always felt that, for some reason, he saw my potential and had faith in me. When I made the highly questionable decision to focus my career on treating addiction he encouraged me. In fact, he set up my first few job interviews at addiction treatment centers and I credit him with my earliest successes (although he always laughed when I said so and joked that I was exaggerating his importance).

I have told the story many times about approaching him in the Summer of 2015 to ask his advice about creating what I thought would be a radically new type of addiction treatment practice. He surprised me when he immediately expressed admiration for the plan and then asked if he could join in and work with me! As with so many other things, I later learned he had done this kind of thing before, 20 years before, in fact. When we were struggling to choose a name for the clinic, he characteristically refused to let me name it after him but instead produced a 20-year-old brochure from a program he had created in the 1990’s – The Virginia Center for Addiction Medicine. Over the last few years, scarcely a week went by when he didn’t take the time to tell me how proud he was of what we were doing and how thankful he was to be involved. It is difficult to express how much it has meant to me to know that he believed in me and the mission we had embarked on together. I doubt I’ll ever know a greater honor.

Dr. Master’s importance and influence in the Richmond community is hard to overstate. He was adored and trusted by his patients, some of whom he kept for decades. We were incredibly fortunate and thankful to have the opportunity to work with him and to be a part of his fantastic career. Perhaps now we can add his name to our program – how about The Sherman Master Center for Addiction Medicine?

- James Thompson
CEO & Co-Founder

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