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Remembering Tom Forbes

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2011 - Spring


When I returned to New Haven for the 45th reunion of the Medical School Class of 1965, my classmates immediately began entertaining each other with stories about Thomas Forbes, Ph.D., our kind and gentlemanly associate dean who strove to avoid any stress in his encounters with young people by preceding any possibly contrary comment with a nervous little cough. So many of us had so many kind things to say about him that it was easy for me to pitch in with my short tale:

It was the winter of 1960 when I came to New Haven to be interviewed for the next medical class. A motherly secretary ushered me into the handsome office of Dr. Forbes, who immediately put me at my ease with his kind smile, two-handed handshake, and comfortable slouching in his leather chair. We chatted amiably about this and that until finally he asked, “Uh, Mr. Barchilon, can you think of anybody at Yale that you particularly admire?”

“Cole Porter!” I answered immediately.

Tom Forbes leaned back and paused a moment. “Ahem, uh, Mr. Barchilon, I meant from the medical school.” He paused again a moment, then leaned forward with a smile. “But come to think of it, he’s my favorite, too.”

That pretty well clinched Yale for me, especially after the adrenaline-rush interviews I had had at Columbia and Johns Hopkins. I felt comfortable at Yale and have always been proud to have learned the art of medicine there.

John Barchilon, M.D. ’65
Thousand Oaks, Calif.

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