In Memoriam

This page is dedicated to leaders in the field of bioethics and humanities who have passed away.

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Richard Selzer, MD

1929-2016

Allen Richard Selzer was born June 24, 1928, in Troy, N.Y. Young “Dickie,” as he was known, often accompanied his father on house calls, but he was also drawn to the arts through the influence of his mother, a singer.

When his father died of a heart attack, “it was then and there that I gave myself to medicine the way a monk gives himself to God,” Dr. Selzer wrote in his 1992 memoir, “Down From Troy.” “Not to have done so would have seemed an act of filial impiety. Since I could not find him in the flesh, I would find him in the work he did.”

He received a bachelor’s degree in 1948 from Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., then graduated from New York’s Albany Medical College in 1953. After an internship at Yale, he served in the Army Medical Corps in Korea, where he became seriously ill with malaria. He later returned to Connecticut to teach and to open a surgical practice. (His partner was Bernie S. Siegel, author of the 1986 bestseller “Love, Medicine & Miracles.”)

In his youth, Dr. Selzer was a voracious reader and fascinated by language. After turning 40, he began to write short stories, publishing his first in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in 1971. Several stories were collected in his first book, “Rituals of Surgery,” in 1973.

He also published essays on medicine in Esquire magazine and received a National Magazine Award in 1975. He gave up his medical practice in 1984 to write full time.

Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Janet White Selzer of North Branford; three children, Jonathan Selzer of Cheshire, Conn., Lawrence Selzer of Winchester, Va., and Gretchen Lehman of Fort Myers, Fla.; and seven grandchildren.

“It is trust, not gratitude or worship, that animates the physician,” Dr. Selzer wrote in “Down From Troy.” “To palm a fevered brow, to feel a thin wavering pulse at the wrist, to draw down a pale lower lid — these simple acts cause a doctor’s heart to expand. . . . Add to this the possibility of the grace of healing, and there is no human contact more beautiful.”

Ronald Baker Miller, MD

1933-2016

Ronald B. Miller, MD, internist-nephrologist and clinical medical ethicist, died peacefully at his home in Irvine, CA, on March 9, 2016 after a short illness. Dr. Miller graduated from Princeton University, attended medical school at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, and completed his training in Boston, where he was also on faculty. He went to UCI in 1968 as Assistant Professor of Medicine and founding director of the Renal Division, Department of Medicine in the California College of Medicine and was tenured in 1972. Though he then entered private practice, he retained an academic appointment at the University of California Irvine, School of Medicine and remained active until his recent illness. He received numerous awards, authored over 100 publications and presented over 300 invited lectures.

His compassion for his patients led him to take a yearlong sabbatical in the budding field of Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine Ethics in 1989-90. On returning to USI he founded the Program in Medical Ethics, which he directed until 2001.

Dr. Miller was brilliant, driven by a moral passion for ethical medical practice and patient-shared decision making. He brought fire to the battles he engaged in, and was tireless in the pursuit of a better society. He believed the each individual has a responsibility to others, and so in living his beliefs, treated people with decency, dignity, and respect. He was well known for digging deeply into issues troubling medical practice and patient care. He loved to take an adversarial position just to get discussions going. He will be remembered for being committed to patients, fair but tenacious in argument, generous with his time as a mentor, and dedicated to advancing the field of bioethics. He had great knowledge and wisdom in many areas, built upon a phenomenal memory and love of learning. He was always a presence in the front row, furiously taking notes.

He will be missed.

His family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Jerome Tobis Endowed Lecture in Medical Ethics: UCI Foundation, 555 Aldrich Hall, Irvine, CA 92697-5600. Telephone: 949-824-5618. www.give.uci.edu/contact  Checks to UCI Foundation, Attn: Linda Haghi, 19722 MacArthur Blvd, Irvine, CA 92697-3954

 

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