Dear Uncle Marcus (Welby):

You never knew me as a doctor. I was just a teenager when you were at the peak of your career. You would be 114 if you were alive today. But you represent something lasting, something archetypal, to me and to many of my colleagues – and also to patients who met you or heard about you.

You were passionate, caring, creative and daring.

Your were passionate about your calling as a doctor and about your principles. There was never any doubt about where you stood. Sometimes you had to process things, and many times your understanding and thinking evolved. But it was always a process grounded in your heart and soul, true to your nature.

You cared deeply for your patients. You often extended, gave of yourself, invested in them. They were not just clients or consumers of healthcare. They were your people.

Your creativity showed when you adopted new technologies to unique clinical scenarios, in your finding ways to reach closed minds or break through stalemates. Medicine was never cookbook in your practice, but an exploration of what you could do with whatever tools were available for you and your patients.

You were daring enough to speak up against injustice, closed mindedness, self pity or abuse. You took on hospital administrators and community leaders. You claimed and used the authority American physicians had in your day.

In some ways it seems being a doctor was easier in your era, but I’m not sure. Every age has its challenges. We have more treatments today to offer our patients. But I believe there is one tool we use much less than you did – ourselves.

You were fully engaged, fully invested. A doctor is what you were, who you were, through and through.

I don’t like to go to doctors, but if I had to, I’d want someone like you.

My wish is that I can be at least a little bit like you for the patients who choose me as their personal physician.

1 Response to “Dear Uncle Marcus (Welby):”


  1. 1 marilyn Findlay October 18, 2021 at 9:51 am

    I think you are more like him than any doctor I have known. Having you for my doctor for so many years has made me unable to appreciate going to one now. Do not underestimate how many feel the way I do. Especially now, Covid has made appointments getting unbearable. Thankfully at 88, I am still holding my own. It was my pleasure to visit you in Bucksport. I
    follow your post weekly and can’t get enough info. Thank you.


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Osler said “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis”. Duvefelt says “Listen to your patient, he is telling you what kind of doctor he needs you to be”.

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