Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

In Memoriam: David Thomasma

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

In Memoriam: David Thomasma

Article excerpt

It is difficult to write an obituary that is not only true to a person's accomplishments but also speaks to a person's character, especially when the person was a "Mensch" whom one loved despite or because of his warts as well as his achievements and virtues. This is the situation I find myself in writing about Dave Thomasma, who died unexpectedly on 24 April. As I write the word "virtues" I can hear Dave's belly laugh. He was good at that.

Dave thought the best of everyone and everything--sometimes even in spite of the evidence. Through Dave's rose-colored glasses, people were decent and acted honorably and compassionately toward one another--in other words, they were like Dave. Dave also had a tremendous capacity to "walk in another person's shoes," in a way that enabled him to understand the effects of poverty, racism, and inaccessible health care. Although a devout Catholic, he always respected other world views and religious beliefs.

His contributions to bioethics nationally and internationally are well known. He often worked with Ed Pellegrino--a wonderful team of physician and philosopher. Their interaction was of benefit not only to them, but to us, the readers, and to their students. Their book on the philosophy of medicine and health care, A Philosophical Basis of Medical Practice, has become a standard work. They were working on another edition at the time of Dave's death. …

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