Commissioner Roy L. Schneider, MD
Dr. Roy Lester Schneider holds a special place in the improvement of healthcare in the U.S. Virgin Islands. As Health Commissioner, he initiated the territory’s first kidney transplant. He also performed the territory’s first radical forequarter amputation for cancer of the humerus. He played an active role on St. Thomas and St. Croix in the completion of new health facilities which were previously initiated through the efforts of former governors and health executives. He also advocated the establishment of a board of trustees for each hospital.
It was in Washington, D.C., however, that Dr. Schneider first made his mark. On the university level, he was associated with Howard University Hospital and served on its faculty. At Freedmen’s Hospital, Howard’s teaching hospital, he held various administrative positions including vice-chairman in the Department of Oncology, 1973; associate director at Howard’s Cancer Research Center, 1973; consultant, Cancer Surgery Department of Radio Therapy, Howard University, 1973.
Born on St. Thomas on May 13, 1939. He is a son of Aluvis and Winifred De Graff Schneider. His early education began in the local public schools, Dober and Lincoln, now J. Antonio Jarvis. Completing requirements for graduation from senior high school, he emerged as salutatorian of the class of 1957 of Charlotte Amalie High School and entered Howard University, Washington, D.C. After he earned his bachelor’s degree with majors in zoology, chemistry, physics, and math, he entered Howard’s College of Medicine and earned his medical degree in 1965. He subsequently did his internship at Freedmen’s Hospital, now known as Howard University Hospital.
He was inducted into the United States Army Medical Corps School, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, from which he received a diploma in 1966. At the completion of this training, he continued in the U.S. Army Medical Corps for the next two years, 1966-1967, and during this tenure, was promoted to the rank of captain, serving at Leonard Wood Army Hospital for one year, 1966-1967. Returning to his medical career, Dr. Schneider again selected Howard University for his residency in surgery and served as chief resident. However, in 1972, he was accepted as an Oncology Surgery Fellow at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. In 1977, he was appointed Commissioner of Health for the Virgin Islands by Governor Cyril F. King. He served in this position until 1986 when he opted to enter the gubernatorial race. He ran unsuccessfully against Alexander Farrelly. As a cancer specialist, he shares his expertise and gains new ideas by contributing to seminars and conferences, both in and outside of the United States. In 1994, Dr. Schneider was elected governor of the Virgin Islands for a single term.