Friday, July 06, 2007

Never to be lost

I'm processing boxes received in the massive donation of faculty files from OHSU News & Publications a few months back, and I just had one of those "I can't believe I hadn't heard of this guy!" moments.

Dr. Herbert Burwell Fowler, M.D., was the first director of the University's Whitecloud Center, which was (at the time) the only center for American Indian and Alaskan native mental health research and program development. Fowler himself was one-quarter Sioux Indian, and the grandson of America's second Native American physician. So, amazing enough already.

Add to that, the majority of the folder's contents relate to the November 1976 news that Fowler was awarded the Lenin Prize in Science, given annually to individuals for outstanding development of science and for effectiveness of scientific research and technical development. Fowler was cited for his accomplishments in administering a large state hospital in Michigan (before he came to OHSU), his extensive work in genetic psychiatry, his writings about psychotherapy in the USSR, and his work at the Whitecloud Center. As of 1976, the only other American to have received the Lenin Prize was Linus Pauling, another scientist from Oregon (oh, and a Nobel Prize winner. Twice).

Much of the remaining material in the folder concerns the untimely death of Dr. Fowler just three short months after the announcement of the Lenin Prize award. He never got to make the trip to Russia to collect the prize. He was stricken on New Years Day, 1977, and died the next morning. A copy of a memo from PR staffer Tim Marsh summarizes his conversation with Dr. Anthony Gallo, OHSU professor of neurosurgery, about the circumstances of Fowler's death:
He said that Dr. F. had a cerebral hemmorage [sic] ... about 5 p.m. Saturday at home.
He was brought to the ER of Holiday Park Hosp. about 7 p.m. where Dr. Gallo saw him, on the request of Dr. Blachly [also an OHSU faculty member, and Fowler's colleague in the Dept. of Psychiatry]. Dr. G. diagnosed the hemmorage and had Dr. F. transferred to U-Hosp. where an emergency angiogram was done.... He said Dr. Fowler died at 3 a.m. Sunday in the University Hospital SICU.
We even have a copy of the hospital admissions log from that evening.

With all of this material are two notes. One is on the letterhead of Michelle Wiley, University public relations: "Les, File this in Dr. Fowler's "dead" file because I don't want to ever lose it." The second is on letterhead from MaryAnn A. Lockwood, from a slightly later era in public relations here: "File Fowler, Herbert. Don't lose this one."

And now that it's here in the Archives, we never will.

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