Masters Decides to Retire; Sex Institute Closing Therapist Cites His Age, Fatigue

By Tim O'Neil and Jerry Berger Of the Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), December 15, 1994 | Go to article overview

Masters Decides to Retire; Sex Institute Closing Therapist Cites His Age, Fatigue


Tim O'Neil and Jerry Berger Of the Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Dr. William H. Masters, of Masters & Johnson fame, is putting to rest his 50 years and seven-day weeks of study, discourse and treatment of human sexuality.

"I've done a lot of therapy and, at my age, it's time to smell the roses a little bit," said Masters, who will turn 79 on Dec. 27. "I think the work has been done reasonably well. Let's put it this way - I'm tired."

Masters said Wednesday that his Masters & Johnson Institute, at 5900 Arsenal Street, will close on Friday. He said he and his new wife, Dody, planned to spend this and all future winters in Tucson, Ariz., and their summers in upper New York state.

Masters and his second wife, Virginia Johnson, are co-authors or authors of 16 books. Their first, "Human Sexual Response," was a research work written in heavy professional prose. But its publication in 1966 quickly made them famous far beyond the medical world.

Johnson left the institute before the couple was divorced in March 1993. Masters said he married his current wife, Dody - a sister of his roommate at Hamilton College in New York - later in 1993.

Masters was born in Cleveland but grew up in south Texas and several Midwestern cities. He has been in St. Louis since 1943, when he came here from the Rochester University medical school for a residency at the old St. Louis Maternity Hospital, now a part of Barnes Hospital.

An obstetrician and gynecologist by training, he did his early research on sex hormones. In 1954, Washington University allowed him to begin full-time research on sexuality.

"It was a researcher's dream," he said. "Even my negative research findings became important." In research, a negative usually requires starting over.

Masters said Wednesday that he remembered 1966 like this: "The public was in a state of shock. Mail came in by the sacks. We had to hire part-time secretaries to handle it. I'd say 75 to 80 percent of it back then was the `drop dead' stuff."

Johnson had been his assistant since 1957 at his Reproductive Biology Research Foundation, which was renamed the Masters & Johnson Institute in 1967. They were married in 1971. …

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