In Memoriam

Karel B. Absolon, M.D. ’52, Ph.D., died of respiratory failure on October 2 at his home in Rockville, Md. He was 83. Born in Brno in what is now the Czech Republic, Absolon left in 1948 during the Communist takeover of his homeland. A heart surgeon, he was chief of surgery at Washington Hospital Center and also worked at the National Institutes of Health. He retired from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in the mid-1980s. Absolon was a collector of history and medical books and wrote a three-volume biography of Theodor Billroth, the father of modern gastrointestinal surgery.

Sophia Chamberlin Alway, M.D. ’41, died on February 10, 2009, in Redmond, Wash. She was 92. Alway completed her residency in pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, where she met her husband, also a pediatrician. The couple moved to Portola Valley, Calif., in 1955 when her husband, Robert H. Alway, M.D., became dean of Stanford Medical School.

Donald S. Baim, M.D. ’75, a cardiologist and medical device executive, died on November 6 in Natick, Mass., following surgery for adrenal cancer. He was 60. Baim, a former professor of medicine at Harvard, most recently was chief medical officer at Boston Scientific Corp., a manufacturer of medical devices. Baim established the interventional cardiology program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, which specialized in teaching surgeons to use such new devices as stents. He also edited the standard medical textbook for using the devices, now in its seventh edition.

Albert W. Diddle, M.D. ’36, died on December 23 in West Knoxville, Tenn. He was 100. Diddle completed his residency in obstetrics/gynecology at the University of Iowa. He served as a physician in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific and China during World War II. After the war he trained in oncology at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas. He moved to Knoxville in 1948, where he was the first board-certified ob/gyn. He was on the planning committee for the University of Tennessee Medical Center there and was one of the original researchers of birth control pills. He published more than 130 papers during his career.

Peter A. Duncan, M.D. ’41, died on September 25 in Greenwich, Conn. He was 93. Duncan served as a captain in the U.S. Army during World War II and practiced pediatrics in Rye, N.Y. In the late 1970s he founded the Birth Defects Center of Westchester County Medical Center and New York Medical College in Valhalla, N.Y. Duncan, a pioneering researcher in pediatric dysmorphology, wrote more than 150 research articles and abstracts.

John L. Howland, MED ’61, died on October 18 in Brunswick, Maine. He was 73. Howland joined the faculty of Bowdoin College in 1963 as an assistant professor of biology and by 1971 had elevated biochemistry into a separate department. He served as chair of the department several times and retired in 2002. He was best known for his research into the causes of muscular dystrophy and the cellular biochemistry of genetic disorders.

Alan M. Levine, M.D. ’74, HS ’80, founder and director of the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute for Sinai Hospital and Northwest Hospital Center in Baltimore, died on October 25 in Pikesville, Md., of a heart attack. He was 61. Levine was renowned in his field as an expert on scoliosis. He was editor-in-chief of the Journal of American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons for eight years; his published works included Skeletal Trauma and Nonoperative Musculoskeletal Care. From 1976 to 1978, he was a commissioned officer with the U.S. Public Health Service. Levine was director of the orthopaedic rehabilitation unit at Montebello State Hospital from 1980 to 1986. From 1983 to 1998, he was chief of orthopaedic oncology service and director of the spinal injury clinic at the University of Maryland Medical Center. In addition to his professional success, Levine was active in charitable works. One of his hobbies was making teddy bears to explain the procedure of scoliosis surgery to children facing it and reduce their fears.

John R. Lyddy, M.D., HS ’57, died on October 3 at Bridgeport Hospital. He was 90. A graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and NYU College of Medicine, Lyddy completed his residency in ob/gyn at Yale. He served as a naval officer during World War II and the Korean conflict. He practiced general medicine in Bridgeport in his early years and then established a private practice in Stratford. He also served at Bridgeport Hospital for many years, both as chair of ob/gyn and chief of staff. Lyddy was an accomplished carpenter and avid golfer. He loved sports, particularly the New York Mets.

Donald M. Mandelbaum, M.D., HS ’72, died of brain cancer on October 15 in Hollywood, Fla. He was 69. Mandelbaum received his medical degree from New York University in 1965. After internships in New York and service in the U.S. Army, Mandelbaum completed a three-year diagnostic radiology residency at Yale. In 1972 he moved to Hollywood to join a radiology practice.

Hoyt B. Miles, M.D. ’43, died on October 20 in Reno, Nev. He was 91. Although he played piano and flute in high school and won two national orchestral contests, Miles decided on medicine when he observed that the local musicians were poor and that the family doctor had two cars. After his graduation from medical school he served as a doctor with the 3rd Marine Division on Guam. He also served in China with the Marines. After World War II he resumed surgical training and practiced urology in Los Angeles. In 1958 he opened a practice in Reno.

Lawrence E. Shulman, Ph.D. ’45, M.D. ’49, died on October 10 at his home in Washington, D.C., from complications of bladder cancer. He was 90. Shulman helped to found the Johns Hopkins University medical school’s rheumatology department and was founding director of the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, and Skin Diseases. He joined the staff of the National Institutes of Health in 1976; in 1994 he was named director emeritus of the arthritis institute. Shulman received numerous national and international awards and fellowships for his service to the field of medicine, including the infrequently given Gold Medal of the American College of Rheumatology.

Harris B. Shumacker Jr., M.D., HS ’38, died on November 12 in Gladwyne, Pa. He was 101. A graduate of the medical school of Johns Hopkins University, Shumacker was a pioneer in heart surgery and author of more than 600 professional articles and papers, eight books and monographs and chapters in about 40 textbooks. He was an expert in such areas as frostbite and the early development of the artificial heart. He served as an officer in the U.S. Army; as consultant to the surgeon general, he was instrumental in putting the first monkey into space in 1949.

Alvin Somberg, M.D. ’47, died on October 13 in Chicago. After his graduation from the School of Medicine, Somberg, a general and family practitioner, served in the U.S. Army in France and spent most of his medical career at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago.

Send obituary notices to Claire M. Bessinger, Yale Medicine Publications, 1 Church Street, Suite 300, New Haven, CT 06510, or via e-mail to