Vol. 33, No. 1     Winter 2010
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Medical alumni and faculty remembered

Below we pay tribute to recently deceased alumni and faculty members; we also note when they passed away. Because we are not always aware of deaths in the larger UW Medicine community, especially those that take place outside of Seattle, we rely on other alumni, faculty and friends to notify us and send us obituaries. Our sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones.


Photo by Stefanie Felix

Dr. Ellsworth "Buster" Alvord, Jr., and his wife, Nancy D. Alvord

Ellsworth C. “Buster” Alvord, Jr., M.D., died on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010 at the age of 86. Born in 1923, Alvord received an M.D. from Cornell University in 1946 and did postgraduate training in pathology and neuropathology. After working at what was then the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Blindness and then on faculty at Baylor University, Alvord joined the pathology faculty at the UW School of Medicine in 1960. He remained at UW Medicine for the remainder of his scientific career, serving as head of neuropathology for 40 years.

Alvord made enduring contributions to the science of multiple sclerosis, brain cancer and allergic encephalomyelitis. Among many honors, he received the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005 for his outstanding work. He was a consummate scientist — fascinated by his field, creative, committed and passionate about finding treatments and unlocking mysteries. Alvord wrote important articles and books, several of which became standard texts in his field. His C.V. lists 269 peer-reviewed publications, and he continued his scientific work far into retirement.

In addition to scientific contributions, Alvord — and his family — are also known for their philanthropy, and the evidence of their generosity can be seen throughout UW Medicine, the University of Washington and the larger Puget Sound region in science and medicine, in the arts and humanities, in education and in other areas. Most recently, Alvord and his family committed to the creation of the Nancy and Buster Alvord Brain Tumor Center at UW Medicine, a project that reflects Alvord’s career-long interests in scientific collaboration, coordination and integration.

Alvord is survived by his wife of 66 years, Nancy D. Alvord (pictured with him in the photo above), his sons, Ellsworth C. “Chap” Alvord III (Eve H. Alvord), and Richard W. Alvord (Nancy J. Alvord), and his daughters, Katharyn Alvord Gerlich and Jean A. Rhodes, as well as by his grandchildren: Elias C. Alvord II (Karyl Alvord), Ira. A. Gerlich, Delaney A. Gerlich, Carrie Delaney Rhodes, James S. Rhodes III (Kalpana Rhodes), George E. Rhodes, Alexander W. Alvord, Virginia J. Alvord, and Annie O. Alvord. He also is survived by nine great-grandchildren and his brother and sister-in-law, Robert W. and Jacquelyn Alvord.

Guy Richard Anderson, Ph.D., died on May 14, 2009, at the age of 90. Born on the family ranch near Potlatch, Wash., he was the third of five children, and he rode a horse to his one-room country school house. He graduated from Palouse High School, where he was senior class president. A member of the Phi Kappa Phi Academic Honor Society, Anderson played on the freshman football team while attending the University of Idaho, and he received a B.S. in 1942. As a member of the Idaho Army ROTC, he accepted a commission as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army upon graduation. During World War II, he served in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Holland. His decorations included three paratrooper combat jump stars, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart with Oak Cluster.

Following the war, he returned to Palouse, where he married Willa Mae Redman in 1947. They settled in Moscow and raised four children. Anderson taught at the University of Idaho and attended graduate school at Idaho and Washington State Universities, receiving his Ph.D. in bacteriology.

In the 1970s, Anderson (then serving as an assistant dean) was nominated to pioneer a cooperative educational effort involving the University of Washington School of Medicine as well as the universities of Idaho, Montana and Alaska. This effort was the forerunner of today’s WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) program, which has helped improve the recruitment of physicians for underserved rural areas.

Retiring from the University of Idaho after 38 years, Anderson participated in many community activities and was a long-time member of the Elks, the Lions Club, the American Legion and the Palouse Grange. He is survived by his four children, Deborah, William, Elesa and Tamar, by seven grandchildren and by his brother and sister.

Louis A. Fragola, M.D. ’63, nominated as Brown Medical School’s Teacher of the Year (Department of Dermatology) in 1995 and 2004, died on May 25, 2009. A practicing dermatologist, Fragola was born and raised in New Haven, Conn. After receiving an undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut, he served in the U.S. Army for two years in Alaska, then earned his medical degree from the UW School of Medicine. He did post-graduate training with the U.S. Public Health Service and at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. Fragola practiced dermatology in his Barrington, R.I., office as well as at the Brown University Health Center, and he taught at Rhode Island Hospital and the VA Hospital. A clinical assistant and associate professor at Brown University Medical School since 1972, he remained active in numerous professional associations and presented at dermatological conferences, where he was noted for his slide presentations on dermatological diseases. Beloved husband of Phyllis Wright Fragola, he also is survived by a brother and sister, four children — Bob, Dean, Christina and Karen — two stepchildren and nine grandchildren.

Eloise R. “Elo” Giblett, M.S. ’47, M.D. ’51, Fel. ’55Eloise R. “Elo” Giblett, M.S. ’47, M.D. ’51, Fel. ’55, was born on Jan. 17, 1921, and died on Sept. 16, 2009. She was born in Tacoma, Wash., and interrupted her education at the University of Washington to serve in the WAVES during World War II. Giblett conducted post-doctoral studies in hematology and genetics at the UW, in London, and in Cleveland, Ohio. A member of many national and international scientific committees as well as medical and genetics societies, she served as president of the American Society of Human Genetics in 1973. She also was a board member of the American Society of Hematology, the Western Association of Physicians and the New York Blood Center Research Advisory Committee. In 1980, Giblett was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences and was awarded the Seattle Matrix Table. In 1981, she became a fellow of the National Association for the Advancement of Science. Most of her work was done at Puget Sound Blood Center, where she was associate director from 1955–1979 and executive director until her retirement in 1987. Giblett also served on the faculty of the UW School of Medicine, attaining the rank of full professor in 1967. At retirement, she was awarded emeritus status at both UW Medicine and Puget Sound Blood Center.

The author of over 200 scientific papers and textbook chapters, Giblett also published a book titled Genetic Markers in Human Blood in 1969. In 1987, she received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the UW Medicine Alumni Association; she was the first woman honored in this way. During her retirement years, Giblett devoted much of her time to music, playing the violin in several amateur groups. She was on the board of the Music Center of the Northwest and strongly supported all forms of classical music. Finally, Giblett’s scientific legacy will live on: in her work, in the antigen named after her (the “Elo” antigen), and in her mention in The Number of the Beast by Robert Heinlein (Giblett was a science fiction fan, and she knew Isaac Asimov). Giblett is survived by her niece, Leslie.

Donald J. Hesch, M.D. ’56, died Sept. 17, 2009. He was born Oct. 20, 1930, in Sanborn, N.D., where he helped out on the family farm and played on his high-school football team. He graduated in 1948, then moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington. There he met his beloved wife, Robin, whom he married in 1951. Graduating in 1956 from the UW School of Medicine, Hesch served as a medical officer in the U.S. Army from 1957–1959. He was a founding partner of Western Radiology in 1962, a group that provided radiological services for three of Seattle’s leading hospitals. In 1969, Hesch directed and helped establish the new stroke center at Northwest Hospital, later becoming chief of staff from 1972–1974. He also served as a clinical assistant professor at the UW School of Medicine. Hesch later began his own practice, Lakeview Radiology, where he remained the sole practitioner until his retirement in 1998. He is survived by his three children, Jan, Terry and Mark, and four grandchildren.

Fred D. Holcomb, M.D. ’56, was born July 14, 1930 in Kelso, Wash., and died on June 21, 2009 in Salem, Ore. After graduation from the UW School of Medicine, he served in the U.S. Air Force and began practice in 1963 as an ob/gyn at Salem Clinic, Ore., where he was honored to bring thousands of babies into the world. Holcomb retired in 1994 and is survived by his beloved wife, Carole; his daughters, Kim, Laura and Mary; his stepchildren, Steve, Greg and Karin; a sister, Patty; and nine grandchildren.

Edwin G. Krebs, M.D., pictured with fellow Nobel Laureate Edmond H. Fischer, Ph.D.

Edwin G. Krebs, M.D. (left), pictured with fellow Nobel Laureate Edmond H. Fischer, Ph.D.

Edwin G. Krebs, M.D., who shared the 1992 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering a biological regulatory mechanism in cells, died on Dec. 21, 2009, in Seattle from complications of progressive heart failure. He was 91.

Krebs was born in Lansing, Iowa, the son of a minister and a school teacher. Krebs remembered himself as “not a highly intellectual child” — although he did enjoy making gunpowder from materials borrowed from his older brother’s chemistry set. When Krebs’s father died suddenly during the Great Depression, his mother moved the family to Urbana, Ill., where his two older brothers were attending the University of Illinois. Despite their limited means, his mother was determined that her four children would have college educations. Krebs studied chemistry at the University of Illinois in a self-directed program that also allowed him to take courses in math, physics and biology, and he was torn between the idea of becoming a chemist or a physician. A scholarship to medical school settled the question.

In 1943, Krebs graduated from medical school at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. During his clinical internship, he met his future wife, Virginia (“Deedy”), a student nurse at the hospital. He did residency training in internal medicine at Barnes Hospital until 1945, when, shortly after he and Virginia were married, he became a medical officer in the U.S. Navy.  

At the end of World War II, Krebs went back to St. Louis, intending to continue his residency training and become an academic internist. However, physicians returning earlier from military duty had already filled local hospital positions. While waiting for an opening, he was asked by Dr. Carl Cori, who received the Nobel Prize in 1947 for elucidating carbohydrate metabolism, to do postdoctoral research in biological chemistry at Washington University. When his fellowship was over, Krebs was offered a position as an assistant professor at UW Medicine. He joined the faculty in 1948, two years after the School of Medicine opened.

In the early 1950s, Krebs and his UW colleague, emeritus faculty Edmond H. Fischer, Ph.D., were working on another scientific problem when they made an unexpected finding. They noticed that an enzyme that helps liberate energy in muscle cells (called glycogen phosphorylase) was activated by chemical reaction with phosphate, and de-activated by its removal. Their findings were published without fanfare in the mid-1950s. Many years elapsed before scientists realized that this reversible process of adding phosphate (called phosphorylation) affects countless numbers of cellular proteins, and is a key regulator of many cellular activities. Phosphorylation/de-phosphorylation is now known to govern the function of proteins for the relaxation and contraction of muscles, for various aspects of cell metabolism, for the release and reception of hormone and nerve signals, for learning and memory, for cell shape, motility and division and for the transcription of genetic information and the manufacture of proteins. Problems with this key regulatory process are behind many disorders like cancer, diabetes, nerve diseases and heart conditions.

After this discovery, Krebs served as chair of biological chemistry at UC Davis School of Medicine, returning to UW Medicine when he was offered the position of chair of the Department of Pharmacology in 1977. He also was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. In the late 1980s, Krebs began receiving many major scientific awards for his insights into the principles governing cellular regulation and for his contributions to understanding human biology in health and disease. Among those honors were the Passano Foundation Award (1988), the Horwitz Prize (1989), the Lasker Research Award (1989), the 3M Life Sciences Award (1989) and the Welch Award in Chemistry (1991). At age 74 he heard that he and Fischer would be honored with the 1992 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery they made almost 40 years before and its ongoing influence in many scientific and biomedical fields.

Krebs is survived by his wife of 64 years, Virginia “Deedy” Krebs; three children, Sally Herman, Robert Krebs and Martha Abrego, their spouses, Dan Herman and Phil Abrego, grandchildren Emily Herman Kelly, Poppy Abrego Patterson, Kipp Abrego and Taylor Abrego, and six great-grandchildren.

Thomas Buckwalter Smart, M.D. ’51, died June 30, 2009. Born May 17, 1920, in American Fork, Utah, he dedicated his life of service to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Smart served in the medical-dental corps of the U.S. Navy during World War II, and he helped establish The Polyclinic in Seattle. He is survived by his loving wife of 64 years, Beverly Bean, children Dotti, Marjean, Carol, Joanne and Gary, four siblings, 29 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren.

Walter E. StammWalter E. Stamm, M.D., Res. ’73, ’77, professor of medicine and former head of the Division of Allergy and Infectious diseases, died Dec. 14, 2009. He was 64.

Stamm was born in Philadelphia, Pa., on Feb. 4, 1945, and he grew up in Portland, Ore. He was a star athlete in high school and college, and he enjoyed playing tennis, an enthusiasm he shared with his wife of 42 years, Peggy, who died in June 2008. He also enjoyed skiing, traveling and fishing with his children, Hillary, Lindsay and Andrew.

Stamm graduated with great distinction from Stanford University and cum laude from Harvard Medical School. He did his internal medicine residency training at UW Medicine and began his career at the Hospital Infection Branch of the Centers for Disease Control in 1973, where he served as branch chief from 1974–1976. He then returned to the UW to serve as chief medical resident at Harborview Medical Center and to establish his research career studying urinary tract and chlamydial infections. Stamm discovered two new campylobacter species, noted the role of corynebacteria JK infections in people who were immunocompromised, and of Bartonella quintana bacteremia in inner-city adults with alcoholism. He made many major contributions to the study of urinary tract, sexually transmitted and nosocomial infections, and to training physicians and research scientists in these fields. Stamm also developed new standards of care and therapies for these diseases.

He was past president of the Infectious Disease Society of America and recipient of the society’s Squibb Award and the American Society for Microbiology Sanofi-Aventis Award. Stamm authored more than 350 research articles, 92 reviews, more than 105 book chapters and 11 books. He also chaired numerous guideline committees and was a consultant to the World Health Organization on its Program for Prevention of Antimicrobial Resistance.

Larry Corey, M.D., professor of medicine and laboratory medicine, and head of the Division of Virology, recalled Dr. Stamm’s “ability to synthesize complex ideas, develop consensus and listen wisely, but act forcibly and with reason. He was a passionate advocate for academia and for data-based research and clinical care. He was a superb physician and a gentle, yet firm mentor. We have lost an icon in our field, and deeply mourn the loss of his vibrant presence at our meetings and forums.”

Kathryn WaddellKathryn A. Waddell, M.S., executive director of Health Sciences Administration at the University of Washington, died on Feb. 9, 2010.

Waddell came to the UW in 1992 and worked tirelessly — and with great optimism, intelligence and humor — for the 18 years that followed. After serving in several positions at UW Medical Center, including serving as director of patient care services, she joined Health Sciences Administration in 2000 as director of finance and administration. She was appointed executive director in August 2007. In that position, Waddell oversaw major administrative programs for the Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health and Social Work, including capital planning, academic support services, risk management and health sciences community relations. She also led the business, finance and personnel activities for key interdisciplinary programs, including the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, the Center for Human Development and Disabilities, the Institute on Aging and the Washington National Primate Research Center.

Roy Alan White, M.D. ’50, passed away peacefully on Dec. 7, 2009. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Jacqueline, son Michael (Dianne), grandsons Max and Jackson, son Perry, brother George (Clarice), and nieces Bonnie White (son Jeremy) and Sue Candael (daughter Heidi and son Nicholas). Born Jan. 3, 1925 in Richmond, B.C., White was the valedictorian in Richmond High School’s Class of 1942. He attended the University of British Columbia, and he received his M.D. from the first medical class to graduate from UW Medicine. After a surgical residency at the Mayo Clinic, White practiced surgery at Vancouver General Hospital for 30 years (where he was a clinical professor) and served as chairman of the B.C. Surgical Society. He enjoyed golf at Point Grey, tennis and curling at the Arbutus Club, gardening and bridge. He will be fondly remembered for his dry wit, singing and dancing — and supplying his many friends with tomato and squash plants he had grown from seed.

Robert F. Willkens, M.D., Res. ’57, Fel.Robert F. Willkens, M.D., Res. ’57, Fel., emeritus clinical professor of medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, died Nov. 11, 2009, at Harborview Medical Center. He was 82. A gifted clinician, teacher and scholar, Willkens was a leader in the arthritis community. During a more than 50-year career at Harborview, his roles included chief medical resident, president of the medical staff, and (for 40 years) rheumatology section head.

An expert on rheumatoid arthritis, Willkens was among the first to publish on the use of methotrexate for the treatment of the disease and authored 120 papers on a range of other rheumatic disorders. Throughout his career, he was active in professional societies, rheumatology journals and a long list of community organizations. He chaired the board of directors of the Arthritis Foundation of Western Washington and the Washington State Board of Medical Examiners, and he presided over both the Seattle Arthritis Association and the Northwest Rheumatism Association. He was a master of the American College of Rheumatology and was active in the affairs of the college as well as in the American Rheumatism Association and other bodies.

Willkens was a leader in the arts community; he was a long-time member of the executive board of A Contemporary Theatre (ACT) and the board’s president, as well as commissioner and vice chairman of the King County Arts Commission. He was a member of the Pike Place Market Foundation, the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry Alumni Council, the board of trustees of Horizon House and the board of directors of Skills, Inc. His numerous honors include the Arthritis Foundation’s Distinguished Service Award, the R. H. Williams Superior Leadership Award in Medicine from the Seattle Academy of Internal Medicine, and the Distinguished Rheumatologist Award, presented to him in 1999 by the American College of Rheumatology.

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