William S. Haubrich MD, Master Physician, Author, Mentor, and Scholar, died at his La Jolla home October 1, 2012, at the age of 89.|
He was born in Bexley, Ohio, on the Fourth of July, 1923, to Marie Augusta Spies and Albert Haubrich, a father he lost early at age 8. As an ambitious youth, he attended Bexley High School, graduating in 1940 at age 16.
He ventured to Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for his baccalaureate degree and graduated Phi Beta Kappa within three years in 1943. He worked at a haberdashery on weekends and holidays to help pay the tuition. It is likely that it was in this gentleman's clothing store that the young man gained a lifelong fondness for his signature dapper vests and elegant bowties. While at Franklin & Marshall, he was a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, the Glee Club, and was a writer and managing editor for the school paper, The Weekly Student.
Dr. Haubrich enlisted in the U.S. Army to help cover tuition at the Medical School of Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio (then, Western Reserve University). Writing in his two volume auto-biography of the valuable enlightenment received during his cherished years in medical school he recorded, "Beyond training and education is wisdom, another attribute of a good doctor of medicine." He graduated in 1947, as the president of his class, having earned membership in the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.
Eila Kari and the newly credentialed Dr. Haubrich were married a week after graduation and then headed for Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for a year of rotating internship. After which they returned to Cleveland, Ohio, for three years of residency at Cleveland City Hospital (now MetroHealth), a year in pathology and two years in internal medicine. Then it was back again to Philadelphia for a year in a gastroenterology residency with Dr. Henry Bockus at Graduate Hospital. Dr. Bockus, a charismatic and scholarly clinical gastroenterologist, trained a generation of specialists. An annual meeting of graduates of the Bockus training program was a time of reunion linked to learning of medical advances, and this event was frequently organized by Dr. Haubrich.
At the end of 1951, Dr. Haubrich opened a private practice office in Lakewood, Ohio. Only one year later, the Army recalled him into service. He was stationed at Madigan Army Hospital in Tacoma, Washington, for the next two years.
Dr. Haubrich was recruited by Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, and in 1954 joined the Department of Gastroenterology where he served for 15 years, during which his research was focused mainly on the ultrastructure of the small bowel mucosa. In the course of widely ranging lecture tours, he was elected corresponding or honorary member of the Gastroenterology Societies of Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Peru, and Venezuela.
In 1970 Dr. Haubrich was invited to Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation (SCFR) in La Jolla, California. Scripps Clinic was then a much smaller, although highly reputable, enterprise located near the beach on Prospect Street with only 30 full time equivalent physicians on staff. He became head of the GI Department two years later. During his tenure at SCRF, Dr. Haubrich continued administrative, clinical, educational, and research leadership roles. Dr. Haubrich recognized the crucial need for the Scripps Clinic Medical Group to advance from primarily a medical clinic to a full service entity incorporating all specialties. This required major changes including establishment of a Department of Surgery which he successfully promoted and recruited the first Chairman of the Department of Surgery.
Concurrently, Dr. Haubrich served as a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. He performed his duties without monetary compensation because he "wanted to give back to medicine what he had gratefully received."
As a historian, Dr. Haubrich was a frequent contributor to the annual meeting of the Oslerian society, The Pacific Interurban Clinical Club, where medical scholars with a deep interest in the history of medicine gather annually. Dr. Haubrich's own approach to his vocation was consistent with the objectives of the Club: "to stimulate original work and investigation, to develop and improve methods of teaching, and to promote good fellowship."
In 1960 he was awarded the Vincent Lyon Prize by the American Gastroenterology Association and in 1985 received the Rudolph Schindler Award of the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. He has been named a Master Physician of the American College of Physicians.
After 18 years at SCRF devoted to the clinical practice of gastroenterology, he retired to give his time to various literary endeavors. Dr. Haubrich loved words – their origins, their many meanings, their pronunciation, and their usage to improve the human condition. A self-trained lexicographer, he authored "Medical Meanings: A Glossary of Word Origins" that defined the etymology of over 3000 medical terms with scholarship, affection, and humor. Dr. Haubrich directed the profits from the sale of this book to go to the American College of Physicians.
Legacy: Pioneers in Digestive Disease, compiled by Dr. Haubrich, is based on a series of biographical sketches that appeared monthly in Gastroenterology, the Official Journal of the American Gastroenterological Association Institute, from October 1997 to October 2008. Dr. Haubrich contributed monthly a brief historical sketch describing the person who named a disease or method of treatment. These explanations of the "eponyms" were succinct portrayals of the individuals whose discoveries live on in the vocabulary of medicine.
In addition, Dr. Haubrich is the author or coauthor of more than 115 original or review articles in major medical journals. He has contributed more than 65 chapters to various textbooks, including four editions of the encyclopedic Bockus Gastroenterology of which he was coeditor. From 1971 to 1981 he edited the journal Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. Dr. Haubrich served as consultant in the life sciences for The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, third and fourth editions. At his retirement from active practice, an annual distinguished lectureship was established in his name at the Scripps Clinic & Research Foundation.
As a post-practice effort to sustain his belief in lifelong learning, Dr. Haubrich organized a club, Consecratio Medici, of his friends and colleagues that met monthly to discuss medical history. His presentations were invariably scholarly, and perhaps most appreciated because of his trademark humor. Every meeting with Dr. Haubrich was enriched by his extraordinary memory of amusing and poignant events experienced in his long and diverse life.
Dr. Haubrich was predeceased by his daughter, Linda, in 1999. He is greatly missed by his wife, Eila; daughters, Liisa, Christina (Dan) Dworsky and Karen (Geoffrey) Miller; and grandchildren, Noah and Alden Pressing, Erik and Bryan Dworsky, and Eila and Robert Miller.
A Celebration of Life and birthday remembrance will be held on the Fourth of July, 2013. The family suggests that anyone wishing to make a gift in commemoration of Dr. Haubrich's lifetime might like to contribute to the Graduate Medical Education Department at Scripps Clinic. Please indicate your gift is In Memory of Dr. William Haubrich. The address is Scripps Health Foundation, 10666 North Torrey Pines Road, 109N, La Jolla, CA 92037.
Published in La Jolla Light on Oct. 25, 2012