Deceased June 20, 2008
We knew each other at Amherst because he was in pre-med as was I. I guess we did okay because we both were accepted into the Yale Medical School along with Bob Hatch. At Yale that first year, Dick and I were partners in the gross anatomy lab, dissecting our own cadaver. Dick was married at the time, with a couple of kids as I recall. So he’d bring his lunch with him, sandwiches and stuff, to class and eat it whenever he found the time. The thing about Dick was that he’d often begin his lunch while we were at the cadaver dissecting.
He would have a sandwich in one hand and a dissecting tool of some kind in the other. I don’t know if the formalin dulled our senses of smell and taste, but we had adapted to med school very well, obviously. Tragically, during the second year, Dick was called out of pharmacology class one morning. His house had caught fire, and one of his children had been killed in the fire. His wife was saved, and I think another of the children was all right also. Of this I only knew fragments. As a consequence, Dick elected to drop out for a year, which Yale allowed any of us to do. We didn’t see him for the rest of the year, and so he graduated in 1955.
I next met up with him when I went to the Univ. of Rochester. I was there as a surgical assistant resident first and then as a resident and faculty member in urology. Dick was there in the obstetrics and gynecology training program, by this time a senior resident. I hadn’t up to this point known how much he loved to hunt and fish. I found out quickly when that fall came around, though, and he invited me to go hunting with him. We went down to the south end of Canandaigua Lake looking for deer. We had a lot of fun. Didn’t shoot a darned thing, but it was a wonderfully beautiful crisp blue-sky upstate New York day with a great guy to poke through the woods with.
As I began my training and he was finishing his in OB/GYN, we’d see each other occasionally. Dick finished his residency that June, and he set up practice in Norwich, NY, a small town just east of the Finger Lakes. He was very successful. He loved the area, for it was smack dab in the middle of great hunting and fishing country. He raised a lovely family. His health over the years had some challenges. Among them were five myocardial infarctions, as well as several other cardiac ailments, necessitating several heart surgeries and the use of a pacemaker. Dick also suffered a serious head injury while a passenger in a New York City taxi, resulting in some memory loss, but he kept on doing the things he loved.
He eventually retired and spent about half the year in Florida and half up in Norwich. He was always cheerful, smiling, ready for a laugh, and happy to see his old classmates. He hadn’t changed physically much over the years. He always looked as if he was about to burst into gales of laughter. Dick was a free spirit, as my tales suggest. But he was also generous, lovable, kind, a good doctor, a fine friend, and I’m pleased to have known him. My memories of Dick are all good ones. That’s nice to be able to say about someone.
Harry Miller ’50
Bob Hatch ’50