To the Editor:
John Curtis’ article on Robert Gifford [“Goodbye, Dr. Gifford,” Fall 1999|Winter 2000] captures many of my best memories of Yale. Like many others, I was fortunate enough to have Bob Gifford as a mentor during my first two years of medical school. He made the transition into medicine so fascinating and inspiring for us that it was no coincidence that my med school chum Jim Sullivan, M.D. ’73, and I became rheumatologists.
The only other teacher-physician who made a deep impression on me was the late infectious disease specialist and chief of medicine at Waterbury Hospital, George Thornton, M.D. Oddly enough, he grew up with Bob and went to church where Bob’s father was the minister. Dr. Thornton related to me (and many others, I’m sure) that Bob was something of a choirboy growing up. However, this choirboy was caught throwing spitballs down on the congregants, apparently incurring his father’s wrath. I think Bob never lost that free spirit that enables him to connect with students. Role models like him are extraordinarily rare.
I hope the dean can convince him to unretire one more time.
Gary V. Gordon, M.D. ’73