Friday, July 12, 2013

In memoriam: John C. Dalton, MD


John C. Dalton, MD, who worked at the MGH for more than 55 years, died June 23 at the age of 86. Dalton’s legacy as a kind and compassionate physician will live on at the MGH thanks to his appreciative patients who previously paid tribute to him by naming the 16th floor of the Ellison Building and the Surgical Services waiting room in his honor.

“John was an excellent, incredibly caring doctor,” says W. Gerald Austen, MD, chair of the MGH Chiefs Council, who fondly recalls working with Dalton in the early stages of their careers. “He and I became friends and shared many cardiac patients for many years. I always had the highest regard for him not only as a doctor, but as a really, really nice human being.”

Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Dalton attended the University of Virginia and the University of Virginia Medical School before graduating from Harvard Medical School (HMS) in 1950. During World War II, Dalton served in the U.S. Navy and later in the Marine Corps for two years during the Korean conflict. Dalton was a resident at Boston City Hospital and the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital before becoming a cardiac resident at the MGH. He also was a member of the visiting staff of the Chelsea Soldiers Home where he served as chief of the Fifth Medical Service.

John D. Stoeckle, MD, who was a close colleague of Dalton during his own 50-year career in primary care, recalls Dalton’s unwavering willingness to mentor HMS students as part of the Introduction to the Clinic course. “He was an excellent teacher,” Stoeckle says. “His genial nature with his patients – whether in the office, over the telephone or during home visits – made them extremely devoted to him. I admired him very much.”

Dalton is survived by his wife of 62 years, Olga Fehr Wells; daughters, Deborah D. Robertson and Susan Spitzer; son, Randolph Dalton; nine grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Memorial services were held on June 26.

“He was an absolutely superb physician, and he paid meticulous attention to detail,” says cardiologist Roman DeSanctis, MD. “John was always the consummate gentleman. He was as good as they get.”

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