1930 - 1939
Scroll down to see obituaries, which appear in order of DMS class year. To go directly to any individual obituary, click on the name here, listed in alphabetical order.
William S. Butts, DMS '36
Ralph S. Keyes, '34
Paul C. Zamecnik, DMS '34
Ralph S. Keyes ’34
Ralph Sayward Keyes, a retired psychiatrist and former DMS class secretary, died at the age of 100 on May 11, 2012. He is said to have attributed his healthy life and longevity to three things: good food, exercise, and fresh air.
Dr. Keyes earned his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College in 1933, graduated from Dartmouth Medical School in 1934, and received his MD from McGill University in 1938. He then completed an internship at Cornell University and shortly thereafter moved to Washington State, where he worked in Castle Rock as a doctor in a lumber camp. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and served until 1944, reaching the rank of captain. Following his military service, he moved to Walla Walla, where he opened a private practice with several other physicians. In 1959, he took a government sponsored residency in psychiatry at the University of Washington. Upon completion he returned to Walla Walla, where he opened a private psychiatric practice. He also worked as a psychiatrist at Washington State Penitentiary and Whitman College. In 1970, he closed his private practice and retired. According to obituaries published elsewhere, the day after he “retired,” he started checking the want ads and took a job in the kitchen of the local VA Hospital, declaring it the best job he ever had.
During his more active years, Dr. Keyes served on the boards of the Kiwanis Club and the YMCA and as board president of both of these groups. Along with his wife, he was a member of Quest at Walla Walla Community College, an educational institute for learners over the age of 50, and both took Quest classes for as long as they were able. From 1999 to 2008, Dr. Keyes also served as class secretary for his DMS class.
Dr. Keyes married his wife, Mary Anne, whom he met while at Cornell, in 1940. They lived in their home in Walla Walla for nearly 60 years before moving to an assisted living facility in 2005. Mary Anne passed away on February 10, 2010. Dr. Keyes is survived by their five children, Jill, Nancy, Susie, Jeph, and Peter; ten grandchildren; six great grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild. In addition to his wife, Dr. Keyes was also predeceased by his grandson, Keenan.
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Paul C. Zamecnik
Paul C. Zamecnik, a research scientist whose discovery with Dr. Mahlon Hoagland of transfer RNA (tRNA) was a milestone in molecular biology, died on October 27, 2009 at the age of 96.
Paul Zamecnik enrolled at Dartmouth in 1929 at the age of 16 and five years later had completed both his undergraduate degree and the two-year pre-clinical program at DMS. He completed his MD at Harvard Medical School in 1936. His residency in oncology at Huntington Memorial Hospital, followed by an internship in medicine at University Hospitals in Cleveland, strengthened his interest in scientific research and its promise to improve medicine. It was also during this time that he became intrigued with the mystery of how proteins are synthesized.
To pursue this question, he went on to do a fellowship at the Carlsburg Laboratories in Copenhagen. When the Nazi invasion of Denmark in 1940 cut his time there short, he returned to the U.S. and was accepted into the lab of Max Bergmann, who was studying protein synthesis at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research.
Two years later, Dr. Zamecnik was appointed to the faculty of Harvard Medical School and established his own lab at Mass General Hospital. There, his development of a cell-free system to study protein synthesis set the stage for the discovery of tRNA. In 1956, Zamecnik and his MGH colleagues Dr. Mahlon Hoagland and Dr. Mary Stephenson identified transfer RNA’s role in building proteins and confirmed the ribosome as the site of protein assembly. These were breakthrough discoveries that would revolutionize biochemistry. That same year, he was appointed the Collis P. Huntington Professor of Oncologic Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Zamecnik continued to make important discoveries. In the 1970s he developed antisense technology, a method for blocking the expression of individual genes by preventing messenger RNA (mRNA) from translating genetic information into proteins. Dr. Zamecnik and his colleagues went on to demonstrate that this could be used to inhibit the growth of influenza virus, malaria parasites, HIV, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis in vitro. The discovery has given rise to a new class of drugs currently in development for cancer, HIV, and other diseases.
When Dr. Zamecnik reached MGH’s mandatory retirement age in 1979, he moved his lab to the Worcester Foundation for Medical Research, where his former collaborator, Mahlon Hoagland, was director. In 1997, he returned to MGH as a senior scientist, where he continued to be active in research—most recently in the area of TB treatment—until several weeks before his death.
Dr. Zamecnik received many awards and honors for his work, including at least six honorary degrees, one of them from Dartmouth (1988). He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1968. Although the Nobel Prize eluded him, he was nominated several times. In 1991 he was awarded the National Medal of Science, and in 1996 he received the Albert Lasker Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science.
Dr. Zamecnik was predeceased in 2005 by his wife of 69 years, Mary, who had worked in his lab. He is survived by his daughter, Karen, who also worked with him as a technician in his lab; his son, John; and another daughter, Elizabeth; and seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
An in-depth profile of Dr. Zamecnik appeared in the Fall 2008 issue of Dartmouth Medicine.
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William S. Butts
Dr. William S. Butts, a retired physician with a special interest in sleep disorders, died on February 22, 2010. He was 96 years old.
He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1935 and from DMS in 1936, receiving his MD from Rush Medical College in Chicago in 1938. Following an internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals, he began his medical career in Spokane, Wash., where his late father has been a physician.
In 1942, Dr. Butts entered U.S. Army Air Corps, serving as a flight surgeon with the 380th heavy bomber squadron stationed in the South Pacific. He earned the rank of major and received the Soldier’s Medal for Valor. It was during this time that his need for a microscope prompted him to build one – the first of several he would construct over the years, including one small enough to fit in his pocket and one with a wooden body made from a window shade roller.
After the war, Dr. Butts opened a solo general practice in Pullman, Wash., where he practiced for the next 25 years, doing general medicine, surgery, and delivering over a thousand babies. Since there was no radiologist or hospital in town, he did his own x-ray work on an Army surplus Picker machine. As the city’s health officer, he successfully spearheaded a campaign for the fluoridation of the city’s water. In 1969, he closed his private practice and joined the Washington State University student health service, serving as director from 1973 to 1979. After retiring from WSU in 1984, he did locum tenens work in Washington, Idaho, and Montana.
In his “retirement,” he also started a practice in sleep disorders, in which he had become interested during his freshman year at Dartmouth College, when he made recordings on carbon-coated drums. By monitoring patients in their home using portable equipment he had devised, he could offer effective assessments that were less expensive than those at a hospital sleep lab—an environment he felt was not conducive to a good night’s sleep. He continued this work well into his eighties.
Dr. Butts was a member of Alpha Omega Alpha, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Practice, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
His first wife, Barbara, predeceased him in 1986. He is survived by his second wife, Kathleen; his daughter, Katherine; his two sons, William and Charles; his three step-daughters, Ann, Susan, and Cathy; his three grandchildren and six step-grandchildren.
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