1949 - 2012
Dr. Eileen Gleber followed an unusual path to become a beloved healer who touched hundreds of lives through the West Marin Medical Center in Point Reyes Station, California.
Born on Christmas Eve of 1949 to John and Therese McGuire, Eileen was raised at a public housing project in the Bronx with her older brother, Ronald. Eileen decided to become a doctor after caring for her father, who died of lung cancer in 1968.
Eileen's plans to attend medical school were delayed when she met her husband, Richard Gleber, and delivered their son, Erich, when she was nineteen. Until Erich finished college Eileen concentrated on raising her son.
Eileen's need for independence led to an amicable separation and eventual divorce. However, Eileen and Richard remained close and their love endured. They remarried in 2009 and Richard was at her side throughout her long illness.
Eileen raised Erich in Rhode Island while working as a chemist for the Water Pollution Division of the Rhode Island Department of Health. Eileen believed that the multiple myeloma she contracted was caused by exposure to carcinogens while she supervised industrial cleanups.
Eileen resumed pursuing her own dreams after Erich graduated college. Before applying to medical school, she joined the Peace Corps, serving in the Dominican Republic. She also worked in Nepal and in an HIV clinic in New York City. Eileen chose Mayo Medical School because of Mayo Clinic's dedication to patient-centered medicine. Her first year of medical school was interrupted when Eileen returned home to care for her mother who succumbed to lung cancer in 1996. After graduating Eileen worked in several hospitals and clinics before meeting her mentor, Dr. Michael Whitt, who founded the West Marin Medical Center where Eileen came to work in 2008.
Eileen worked 24/7 and spent many nights sleeping at her clinic where she searched the internet and conducted research to find connections that could help her treat some of her difficult cases. Eileen was known for making late night house calls throughout the rural area she served. In addition to serving her patients, Eileen used house calls to examine their environments to understand the causes of their ailments and to find resources to draw on to help cure them. She was a brilliant diagnostician who often found causes, cures and alternative treatments overlooked by other physicians.
Eileen continued working during her illness and considered her cancer an opportunity to learn firsthand what her patients experienced.
Eileen departed quietly on the morning of August 1, 2012 at her home in Inverness, California. Her husband, son and brother attended her in her last days. She is also survived by two granddaughters and many other relatives, friends, co-workers and patients.
A memorial service will be held at 11:30 AM, Saturday, September 15, 2012, at the Sacred Heart Church in Olema, California. In lieu of flowers please send gifts in Memory of Dr. Eileen Gleber to Mayo Medical School c/o Mayo Clinic Department of Development, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN, 55905.
Published on NYTimes.com from September 7 to September 8, 2012