Jane Desforges M.D. (1921 - 2013)

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Jane Mary Fay Desforges, MD -- teacher, physician, editor and scientist-- passed away at the Lawrence Memorial Hospital on September 7, 2013 at the age of 91. Dr. Desforges was born in Melrose, Massachusetts on December 18, 1921 to the late Dr. Joseph H. and Alice G. (Maher) Fay, and spent her entire upbringing in Melrose. She was graduated from Melrose High School in 1938; from Wellesley College, Durant Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa, in 1942; and from Tufts University School of Medicine, cum laude Alpha Omega Alpha in Boston 1945. While at Tufts Medical she met her classmate and love of her life, Gerard Desforges and they married on September 11, 1948. Jane F. Desforges was a renowned physician and hematologist, recognized as an authority on disorders such as sickle cell anemia, leukemia, and Hodgkins lymphoma; her advice was sought by hematologists from around the world. She spent most of her career at Tufts where she was Distinguished Professor of Medicine. After her initial medical training she undertook a research fellowship in hematology in Salt Lake City, and then returned to Boston to a life-long clinical and teaching career at Tufts Medical (New England Medical Center) while also serving over many of these years on the staff of Boston City Hospital. She was both of her time and ahead of it. Throughout, her deep connection to and caring for her family, friends, colleagues and patients--making the other person feel like the most important in the world at that moment--was her most enduring talent. Dr. Desforges scientific accomplishments were recognized in numerous ways, including election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences (1990), appointment as a Master of the American College of Physicians, and the establishment of the Jane F. Desforges Chair in Medicine at Tufts (1993). Jane served the medical community in a wide array of distinguished capacities, including as associate editor of the New England Journal of Medicine and as president of the American Society of Hematology. As an editor, she not only expected excellence, she demanded clarity. She was known as Jane no adjectives, no adverbs Desforges because the science must stand on its own merits. In 2001, Dr. Desforges received the Massachusetts Medical Societys Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2003, she was inducted into the International Women in Medicine Hall of Fame. She was the first woman to receive the American College of Physicians Distinguished Teacher Award. Established in 1968, the award was renamed the Jane F. Desforges Distinguished Teaching Award in 2007. Jane was also awarded an Honorary Degree from the College of the Holy Cross. She recalled often with delight that her own mother was a Model Teacher for the City of Boston. In turn, Jane was regarded as a model physician. Over her many years on the teaching faculty of Tufts she trained legions of medical students and fellows, who found her a demanding, supportive and inspiring mentor, and who voted her recipient of the Outstanding Teacher award 13 times. Her focus on the how and why of problem solving were legend. She made her lifework in Boston and it was with great local pride she wore her Jubilee Bostonian sash during the 350th anniversary celebration of the city. Jane was a particularly loyal and dedicated alumna of Wellesley College, staying in touch with members of her class, returning often for reunions, and serving of the Board of Trustees. Wellesleys pride in her daughter was recognized with the Alumnae Achievement Award in 1981. Away from the clinical laboratory and teaching classrooms, Jane Desforges was deeply devoted to her family and her community in Melrose and Greater Boston. She was a lifelong member of St. Mary's Parish. Jane served on the Ell Pond Improvement Committee. Hearkening back to her Melrose High School days, when she was a varsity athlete, she was always eager to be active outdoors. Whether visiting the farm in New Hampshire or skiing with the Lab at Alta during her time in Salt Lake City, she was in her element. She shared her love of winter sports with her daughter and friends skating on Ell Pond and on many a Saturday trip to Mt. Sunapee, providing, of course, instruction as needed. Frequently, she would prevail upon her husband Gerry to walk around the Pond, or even to hike in the New Hampshire White Mountains or locations further afield. On Lake Ave she lovingly tended her roses and perennials, while husband Gerry active farmed his vegetables and herbs. Jane and Gerry were inveterate lifelong learners and enjoyed travel for the opportunity it provided to become acquainted with new friends, to learn of new places and their history and culture. The familys August vacations, whether camping from the Rocky Mountains to Nova Scotia or travels abroad, were cherished equally with the times spent on Lake Avenue. Gatherings with family, relatives and friends, regaling one another with stories of amusing family and professional adventures over a home cooked meal, were wonderful highlights for her. Jane was the gently encouraging, guiding and caring mother of the late Gerard Joseph "Mike" Desforges, and Jane A. "Janie" Desforges and her husband Prof. Michael White of Providence, RI. Jane was the loving sister of the late Joseph (Joe) Fay and the late Alice McKendry. She was the loving sister-in-law of Mrs. Leonard A. Desforges (Helen) of West Springfield and the late Rachel, Bertha, Irene Desforges, Loretta Menard, Annette Gleason and Leonard Arthur Desforges. Jane is also survived by many nieces, nephews, colleagues and friends. A funeral Mass to honor and celebrate Janes life will be held at St. Mary's Church, Herbert St. Melrose, at 10AM, Saturday September 21st. Procession from the Gately Funeral Home, 79 W. Foster St. Melrose, on Saturday, September 21st 9:00AM. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend visiting hours on Friday, September 20th from 4:00-8:00PM. Interment at Wyoming Cemetery in Melrose will follow the funeral Mass. The family suggests memorial contributions may be made in the name of Jane F. Desforges MD to one of the following; Tufts University School of Medicine, Office of Development, 135 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02111, Tufts Medical Center, 800 Washington St., #231, Boston MA 02111, Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 170 Governors Ave, Medford, MA 02155 or Wellesley College, Office for Resources, 106 Central St., Wellesley, MA 02481. To send a message of condolence please visit www.gatelyfh.com

Funeral Home
Gately Funeral Home
79 West Foster Street Melrose, MA 02176
(781) 665-1949
Funeral Home Details
Published in The Melrose Free Press from Sept. 14 to Sept. 21, 2013
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