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Edmunds Grey Dimond

Obituary
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December 8, 1918 - November 3, 2013 E. Grey Dimond, a physician, medical educator, and an "original" door-opener to modern China died Sunday, November 3, 2013 at his home, Diastole, on Hospital Hill, in Kansas City, Missouri. He was 94. He died of natural causes. In 1970 the American journalist, Edgar Snow, wrote three articles for Norman Cousins' Saturday Review of Literature, describing his observations in his 1970 trip to the People's Republic of China. These articles dealt with birth control efforts in China, limb re- implantation, and acupuncture anesthesia. The information was original and prompted correspondence from critics declaring that Snow was not a proper observer, was not medically trained, and had apparently been either hoodwinked or was brain-washed by the Chinese. Snow asked his physician friend, Dimond, to go to China, make his observations and report on them. He arranged for an invitation to Dimond from Zhou Enlai. Dimond realized that the acceptance of his findings would be enhanced if his teacher, Paul Dudley White, then 85, could accompany him and bear witness, too. The Dimonds and the Whites arrived in China on Sept. 15, 1971. In their party were the Dr. Sam Rosens and Dr. Victor Sidel of New York City. The four men were the first American physicians in China for 25 years. Their visit antedated Nixon's 1972 diplomatic opening to Communist China. Dimond wrote two articles for the Journal of The American Medical Association (JAMA) fully confirming Snow's findings. Dimond went on to bring the first Chinese physician delegation to the United States in 1972. Over the rest of his lifetime, he took physician and lay groups to China and found study places for Chinese physicians who began coming in numbers. Dimond made 40 trips to Asia, became an honorary professor of medicine at several Chinese medical schools, was for five years consultant to the national heart hospital, Beijing, and negotiated the publication of the Chinese edition of JAMA. He wrote two books, "More than Herbs and Acupuncture" (1975) and "Inside China Today" (1983), W.W Norton, describing his China observations. The first book covered his original trip in 1971, and the second was a biography of the American physician who became a Chinese citizen: George Hatem, (Ma Haide). Dimond's friendships in China gave him unusual access to events there. They included the former foreign minister, Huang Hua; the physician to the leadership, Wu Wei-jan; Rewi Alley, the New Zealander who made his life in China; and Ma Haide, who had joined the communists when they were still at Yenan. In 1980 Dimond and his wife, Mary Dwight Clark, adopted a Chinese daughter, an event that gave them pleasure and pride for the rest of their lives. His wife founded The Edgar Snow Memorial Fund and upon her death, Dimond took on the presidency for 20 years. The University of Missouri-Kansas City houses the Fund's large collection of papers and memorabilia of Edgar Snow. Dimond's observations in China convinced him that China was successfully returning to its historical role as a great nation. He believed that communism was a transitory happening and that the ancient civilization that is China would quietly become the modern China. He never wavered in this observation and often said, "I enjoy the criticisms of contemporaries who are so buried in their hostility towards communism that they could not see the 'return' of China." Dimond was the founder of the unique medical school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The School opened the same day Dimond entered China in 1971. He chose to build his home adjacent to the new school and lived there the rest of his life. Because he had a career as a cardiologist, he named the home after the medical term meaning "heart's rest time," Diastole. He built the home to honor his wife and gave the home to a private foundation and endowed it. Mary Clark Dimond died in 1983. She was the daughter of Grenville Clark. The purpose of the property and gift was to further the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He also gave the university his major collection of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. For ten years, beginning in 1950, he was at the University of Kansas School of Medicine and served there as the youngest chairman of medicine at any American medical school. After that he was director of the Institute for Cardiopulmonary Diseases at the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California. For a year and half he was special consultant on medical education to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Washington, DC. Dimond's first wife, Margot Pendergast, and their daughter Sherri Grey Byrer of Terre Haute, Indiana survive him. With his second wife, Audrey Stone Geisel, he had two daughters: Lark Grey Dimond of Rancho Santa Fe, California, and Lea Grey Dimond of San Francisco. Lark is a well-known sculptor and Lea a successful private bookstore owner. His Chinese daughter, Dr. Joan Wu-Chang, is a graduate of his medical school and an eye surgeon in Hong Kong. He is survived also by his three grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and six great-great grandchildren. He was an only child, born in St. Louis, Missouri, December 8, 1918. He was born on his mother's birthday and enjoyed declaring that he was a spoiled only child, enhanced by being his mother's birthday gift. His father, Edmunds Grey Dimond, was a pharmaceutical chemist and a representative of Eli Lilly and Company. The parents died relatively young, age 43 and 65. On both sides his American roots went back to Virginia, 130 years before the founding of the country. Dimond grew up during the Great Depression and obtained an education only by having a football scholarship to Purdue University. He often declared that the years between age 17 and 22 were so bad that the rest of his life was a joy. Dimond was active for years in the American College of Cardiology and at the time of his death was the oldest living president of the organization. At the University of Missouri he was UMKC Provost for the Health Sciences and statewide Distinguished Professor of Medicine. His ashes will be returned to the family cemetery in Winona, Mississippi. A memorial is to be held in Kansas City, on the campus of UMKC, on December 8 in celebration of the shared birthdays of Dr. Dimond and his mother. At the family's request, memorial contributions may be made to the E. Grey Dimond Memorial Fund c/o Diastole, 2501 Holmes Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64108.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Nov. 17, 2013
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