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Sydney Gorham Babson ’33

Sydney Gorham Babson ’33, September 5, 2010, in Portland. Gorie grew up in Hood River Valley, where his parents owned an apple and pear orchard. He spent two years at Reed before transferring to the University of Oregon, where he earned undergraduate and medical degrees. After a five-year-old relative died from bacterial meningitis, he decided to specialize in pediatrics and did training at Columbia Presbyterian Babies Hospital and at Stanford Medical School. While in New York, he married Ruth E. Lambert, a nursing scholar at Boston College. Gorie had a private pediatric practice in Portland, which he managed for 20 years. “Starting in, it was in the Depression. Business was poor. There were only six pediatricians in the whole area from Oregon City to Vancouver, Washington. House calls were the biggest business in those days, and that covered a lot of ground. I sometimes had as many as a hundred a month.” He was hired as the first full-time pediatric staff member at Doernbecher Hospital (now Doernbecher Children’s Hospital at Oregon Health & Science University) and became the first perinatologist in Oregon. “I got more excited about hospital life and training, and, in 1961, I somewhat sadly signed out my private practice with personal letters.” Gorie headed up the perinatology division at the hospital and developed and directed the Neonatal Intensive Care Center. He created the first neonatal growth charts and a modern infant scale, and did research on infant nutrition and growth. He also helped establish a regional transport system for babies in distress. “There were no private planes in those days, and we found the best thing to do was send a plane to the hospital with the baby in trouble—send the nurses along and the doctor, so they could give care in their birth room and then take the baby back to Doernbecher. This was so exciting, and so helpful.” He was coauthor of the first book on premature infants, a primer on prematurity and high-risk pregnancy, Diagnosis and Management of the Fetus and Neonate at Risk: A Guide for Team Care. In 1977, he retired and set a course to take one world-trip a year and to write about each one—nearly 20 booklets resulted. He also wrote poetry. In 2003, Gorie was recognized with the American Pediatric Society Perinatal Pioneer Award and OHSU established the Gorham Babson Lecture in Neonatology. Survivors include five daughters, 12 grandchildren, and 6 great-grandchildren. His wife died in 2000. “A gentle-hearted and kind man, he was loved and admired by everyone.”

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2014

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