Academic journal article American Journal of Law & Medicine

In Memoriam: Richard Frederic Gibbs 1931-2001

Academic journal article American Journal of Law & Medicine

In Memoriam: Richard Frederic Gibbs 1931-2001

Article excerpt

Dr. Richard Gibbs, an anesthesiologist and lawyer and a driving force in broadening the mission of this society about 30 years ago, died Tuesday, July 17, 2001, in Waltham, Massachusetts. He was 70.

A pioneer in the study of law and medicine together, Dr. Gibbs had a longtime interest in creating a reliable standard of medical care. His own was high: A doctor should treat every patient as if the person were a member of his own family. That was roughly why he had become a doctor himself.

"I was born knowing how to comfort people," he once said. Raised in Chelsea, Massachusetts, Dr. Gibbs graduated from Brandeis University in 1953, the school's second graduating class. After college, he earned a master's degree in marine biology from the University of Massachusetts, but when finding in that field dried up he decided to become a physician.

He earned a medical degree from New York Medical College in 1959. Early in his medical studies he wanted to be a surgeon, but when he found out he was allergic to the soap that surgeons must use, he decided to become an anesthesiologist.

After his internship and residency, Dr. Gibbs joined the staff of what is now Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, eventually becoming senior anesthesiologist there, until his retirement in 1991. At the hospital he was known for bringing bagels to the operating room every Sunday. Dr. Gibbs was also affiliated with Harvard Medical School.

While medicine was his first profession, Dr. Gibbs also had a passion for the law. He earned a law degree in 1970 from Suffolk University Law School.

Shortly afterward, in 1971, Dr. Gibbs became vice president of this society, which was then known as the American Society of Law & Medicine. During the late 1960s, the society had substantially enlarged its focus, moving from an educational forum for forensic physicians to an organization that promotes education not only in medicine but also in the legal issues that affect it.

Dr. Gibbs played an important role in the new direction of what is now the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics, serving as vice president from 1971 to 1978, as a member of the Council from 1979 to 1981, and as a member of the Board of Directors from 1981 to 1982. …

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