In Memoriam

Recent Obituaries
In Memoriam Archive

Daniel Harvey Labby ’35

The son of Russian immigrants, Dan grew up in Portland, along with brothers Robert ’43 and Arnold ’51. He sold newspapers on downtown street corners and played violin in the Junior Symphony, and at Reed, earned a BA in biology, with a thesis on the embryology of the heart. His adviser was Prof. L.E. Griffin [1920–45].

Dan went on to earn an MD from the University of Oregon Medical School (Oregon Health & Science University) in 1939. He interned at Johns Hopkins University and completed a fellowship in medicine at Cornell Medical College. After two years in the army medical corps, where he contracted hepatitis from a contaminated vaccine for yellow fever, he returned to New York to do a residency in internal medicine. During the final year of training, he was chief resident and an instructor in medicine and neuropathy at Cornell Medical College and Bellevue Hospital. Subsequently he joined the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research to study liver metabolism and was appointed acting chief of the division of liver disease in 1946.

Dan and Margaret Selling ’40, MAT ’62 met at 16 and were married in 1940. After WWII, they returned to Portland and raised their family of three, Joan, Louise, and David Labby ’66. Dan entered private practice and served part time as assistant clinical professor at the University of Oregon Medical School. He joined the faculty in a full-time position in 1951 and was chief of the division of diabetes and metabolic diseases.

As a professor of medicine in 1958–71, Dan developed an extraordinary range of expertise not just in metabolism, diabetes, and liver disease, but also in human sexuality, doctor-patient relationships, and medical ethics. In response to concerns that increasingly technical medicine was moving away from “taking care of the person” he organized an ethics seminar in the mid-’60s at Reed, “The Sanctity of Life,” with an international faculty. He did further training at the Tavistock Institute in London, and in 1972 he transitioned to professor of both medicine and psychiatry, focusing his practice on psychiatry until his retirement. In 1989 he helped launch the OHSU Center for Ethics in Health Care and began a senior clinicians’ seminar, which he led until age 92 and which continues today. Reed honored him with the Distinguished Service Award in 1995.

Dan was active in a wide range of community activities. He served on Reed’s board as an alumni trustee from 1965–69 and a regular trustee from 1969–75. He was the traveling physician for the Junior Symphony. He was a rare plant collector who created a magnificent garden, a lover of classical music, art, and Chinese porcelains, a fount of knowledge and stories, and a world traveler. Survivors include Margaret and their three children, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren; brothers Robert and Arnold; and sisters-in-law Lore Caro Labby ’47 and Eva Lamfrom Labby ’51.

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2015

comments powered by Disqus