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In memoriam: Earl R. Thayer, 1922-2017

Earl R. Thayer, who served the Wisconsin Medical Society in various roles for 40 years, passed away yesterday at Agrace Hospice in Madison following a brief illness.

Born in 1922 in Palmyra, Wisconsin, Mr. Thayer served in World War II and then returned to Madison where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Following his graduation, he pursued journalist positions at various newspapers, but ultimately took a job in June 1947 with the Society—then known as State Medical Society of Wisconsin—as a writer.

From 1963 to 1967 he served as executive director of the Society’s affiliated political action committee. He remained with the Society until his retirement in 1987, serving the last 15 years as secretary and general manager.

In addition to his duties with the Society, he served on the Wisconsin Health Policy Council from 1971 to 1986, was named president of the American Association of Medical Society Executive in 1976, and in 1984 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Medical Society of Milwaukee County.

Throughout his career, Mr. Thayer made countless contributions to the Society and the profession of medicine in Wisconsin, and at the same time was recognized for his “unflappable” demeanor and dedication. In a tribute published in WMJ at the time of his retirement, one author wrote, “Throughout his years of service to the medical profession, Earl has demonstrated a humility that transcends titles and leadership that promotes rational, human resolution of problems.”

Another wrote, “In 1811 Doctor William Beaumont…wrote to his parents that he hoped to become proficient ‘in an art which…bids fair to rise with healing on her wings.’

“During his [40] years with the State Medical Society of Wisconsin…Earl R. Thayer has embodied the spirit of this art of healing. It is a spirit fired by compassion, steered by integrity, and guided by knowledge. Though he may never have practiced medicine, his leadership and dedication have helped thousands of Wisconsin physicians better practice theirs. Earl has lived a lifetime of giving.”

 
Memorial service arrangements are pending. More information about Mr. Thayer’s life and legacy will be published in the next issue of WMJ.

Back to October 26, 2017 Medigram