Wednesday, September 27, 2006

William Fitch "Pop" Allen, M.D.

A short while ago, looking through our Biographical File on former faculty member and longtime professor of anatomy Dr. William F. Allen (left, whom everyone called Pop), I ran across a lovely letter from Dr. W.K. Livingston to Allen's widow, written shortly after Allen died in March of 1951. Livingston was then Chair of the Department of Surgery here at UOMS. The letter, dated April 3, 1951, reads:

"Dear Mrs Allen,

I just wanted to tell you how much I miss William. I was sick in bed with the flu at the time of his last illness and the funeral. However, I saw him on the Sunday before he went to the hospital. He was working as usual all alone, carrying on his faithful research. He will always represent for me the true research worker with a meticulous attention to detail and the many, many repetitions of his tests to assure the soundness of his conclusions.

I think you know something of my respect and affection
for him. Bill Murphy and I were the first ones to work in his laboratory the summer that he came to Oregon. I know you will remember, too, that he loaned me money to go to Harvard Medical School when I had almost no way of assuring this loan. Since I came back to teach in the medical school, my affection has increased. There was often a lump in my throat when I peeked into his soundproof room and heard him talking to his dogs or saw him bending over that little old-fashioned typewriter, but it was very hard to express this affection and I think William was embarrassed by my attempts to do so. He would prefer a story instead.

On the last Sunday that I saw him at school, he told me that he was having some trouble with his stomach and the fear came to me then that perhaps this was more serious than either of us knew. I am so glad that he was not ill long and that he was able to carry on his work uninterruptedly through the many years. If there is ever anything I can do for you or yours, it would give me great pleasure to do it since this would be one way of expressing the filial devotion which I had toward him. Don't try to answer this letter. I just wanted you to know of my sympathy and how much I miss him.

Yours sincerely, W.K. Livingston, M.D., Professor of Surgery"

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