Friday, July 02, 2010

Stories from the Clippings


Veteran Healer of Mankind's Ills

Dr. William Burroughs Holden


Some things bear repeating and a tribute to a life well lived is always worth telling again and again. This article caught my eye and after learning more about Dr. Holden, I can see why he lives on in the hearts and minds of those whose lives he touched and why the medical community honored him again and again.

Dr. Holden, born in New York State in 1873, was a graduate of Rush Medical College in Chicago, class of 1897. He taught anatomy and physiology at the now defunct American Medical Missionary College for several years before coming to Portland. He moved to Oregon in 1903, becoming the chief surgeon of the Portland Sanitarium and Hospital in 1905.

Beginning in 1915, Dr. Holden held the position of Professor of Surgery at the University of Oregon Medical School and continued in that post for 30 years. His practice was located in the Medical Arts building in downtown Portland, where he specialized in the field of intestinal obstructions, becoming a leading surgeon in the field. His list of memberships is long and included the Multnomah County Medical Society, of which he was past president and the American College of Surgeons. We also read that Dr. Holden had the rare distinction to be named an honorary member of the UOMS Alumni Association. (At the time, he was the second ever at UOMS to be so honored). He became professor emeritus in 1947.

The articles recount that in 1948, when Dr. Holden turned 75, he was honored at a dinner at the Benson Hotel with the kind of tribute said to be rare to any profession. He was described as "game, honest and tenacious, sure, courageous, an expert surgeon, an esthete and devoted to simple kindness and decency. As a surprise, Dr. Frederick Griggs of Los Angeles, a school mate from Rush, declared that his friendship with "Billy Holden [was] one of the most outstanding satisfactions of a life".

In 1954, at the age of 81, Dr. Holden was honored once again, at a dinner at the Heathman Hotel, for his devotion to his work . A portrait of Dr. Holden, by well known Portland artist, H. Elmer House, was presented that night to the Portland Sanitarium and Hospital for Dr. Holden's years of dedication. At the time, he was Portland's oldest practicing surgeon and still conducting as many as ten major operations in a week and still playing tennis.

The following year, Dr. Holden collapsed in his home and passed away at the age of 82, with his boots on, as some might say. Dr. Holden's friends and colleagues honored him while still living, which is a pleasure few can hope to enjoy.

Article referenced: 1_68_15

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