AGA Remembers William S. Haubrich, MD

November 01, 2012

William S. Haubrich, MD, master physician, author, mentor and scholar, died at his La Jolla home Oct. 1, 2012, at the age of 89.

After attending Franklin & Marshall College, he enlisted in the Army to help cover tuition at the medical school of Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, OH. He graduated in 1947 as the president of his class and headed for Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia, PA for a year of rotating internship. He returned to Cleveland for three years of residency at Cleveland City Hospital — 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 Henry Bockus, MD, at Graduate Hospital.

At the end of 1951, Dr. Haubrich opened a private practice office in Lakewood, OH. Only one year later, the Army recalled him into service. He was stationed at Madigan Army Hospital in Tacoma, WA for the next two years.

Dr. Haubrich was recruited by Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI. In 1954, he 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 1970, Dr. Haubrich was invited to Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation (SCFR) in La Jolla, CA where he became head of the GI department two years later. He 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 the establishment of a department of surgery which he successfully promoted and recruited its first chairman. 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.”

In 1960, he was awarded the Vincent Lyon Prize by AGA, and in 1985 received the Rudolph Schindler Award of ASGE. He has been named a master physician of the American College of Physicians.

A self-trained lexicographer, Dr. Haubrich authored Medical Meanings: A Glossary of Word Origins that defined the etymology of more than 3,000 medical terms with scholarship, affection and humor. Legacy: Pioneers in Digestive Disease, complied by Dr. Haubrich, is based on a series of biographical sketches that appeared monthly in Gastroenterology from October 1997 to October 2008.

Dr. Haubrich is the author or coauthor of more than 115 original or review articles in major medical journals and has contributed more than 65 chapters to various textbooks. 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.

Dr. Haubrich was predeceased by his daughter, Linda, in 1999. He is greatly missed by his wife, Eila; daughters Lisa, Christina and husband Dan Dworsky, and Karen and husband Geoffrey Miller; 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 July 4. 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 at 10666 North Torrey Pines Road 109N, La Jolla CA 92037.

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