W. Donald Weston, M.D.
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W. Donald Weston, M.D. lived his life in harmony and accordance with his favorite quotation: "When old dreams die, new ones come to take their place. God pity a one dream man." Don died May 20, 2014 with his wife Tricia by his side. He walked many paths and fulfilled many dreams during his lifetime: husband, father, physician, athlete, teacher, sailor, world traveler. Born and raised in Modesto, California, Don attended the University of Southern California (USC) on a football scholarship where he earned both his undergraduate and medical degrees. He furthered his medical education through specialty training in both pediatrics and psychiatry. He was a resident and/or fellow at the Los Angeles Children's Hospital, the Boston Children's Hospital, the Harvard School of Medicine and the USC Medical Center. He later earned a graduate degree in management from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Weston was recruited to Michigan in 1968 to join the Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine (MSUCHM). Concurrently he was Director of the Community Mental Health Center at St. Lawrence Hospital. From this position he earned a national reputation in this field and was frequently called on as a consultant to the National Institute of Health and to the National Advisory Council on Mental Health. In 1970 he was named Associate Dean at MSUCHM and was appointed the second dean of the school in 1976, a position he served until 1989. Because of several programs he instituted while dean, he became internationally recognized as an innovator and visionary in the field of community based medical and physician education. During his tenure, he and others dreamed of a program which would focus on the problems in rural health care, and the U.P. Medical Education Program was established. Considering the success of this program, in 1986 Northern Michigan University awarded him the honorary Doctor of Science degree.
In 1989, he became Director of the Program on Aging for the Colleges of Human Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine, and Nursing. In 1991 an opportunity presented itself in West Virginia where he was appointed Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences in the University System of West Virginia. Under his leadership there was increased cooperation among the states' three medical schools and quality health care increased significantly statewide. Don felt a kinship with the people of West Virginia, and in 2001 was the recipient of the Distinguished West Virginian Award, an award rarely extended to someone not a native of the state. Don returned to Michigan State in 2002 as a faculty member teaching undergraduate and medical students.
During the time he was dean, vice chancellor and professor, his accomplishments and skills were further recognized. He was appointed to multiple national committees, the most important being those of the Association of American Medical Colleges where he served on the Governing Council of the Medical Schools Section, the Administrative Board of the Council of Deans, the Executive Committee of the Association and as a member of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education which is responsible for the accreditation of all American and Canadian Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) schools. He also served as Chairman of the Medical Schools Section of the American Medical Association.
Don's children Don (Pam), and Brian (Lynn) from his marriage to Marcia Ensley survive as do grandchildren Cody (Jenni), Max, Jacob (Julia), and Robyn. Following Marcia's death, he felt richly blessed when twenty-five years ago he married Tricia Butch, and their lives were further enriched by the adoptions of their daughters Ahna and Olivia. His children, grandchildren, and Tricia's extended family were so loved and such a source a pride to him. Don sailed the Great Lakes in his boat, the Nepanthe, loved fly fishing in Wyoming and Upper Peninsula streams, and traveled the world - particularly enjoying Vietnam, China, Newfoundland and Mexico. While pursuing each of his dreams, he met people from all walks of life who shared his passions and many became lifelong friends. He always felt fortunate so many of his dreams reached fruition. He was truly thankful all the days of his life. A memorial service is scheduled for 4:00 June 17, 2014, at the Radiology Building atrium at Michigan State. Memorial contributions may be made to the W. Donald Weston Endowed Scholarship at Michigan State University.
Published in Lansing State Journal on June 1, 2014