Letter from the Alumni President

Dear Alumni,

Management adviser William Bridges writes about transitions and making sense of life’s changes. He notes that a transition has an ending, a neutral zone (an “empty” time to reflect, understand and explore) and a beginning — in that order.

The start of an academic year is a quintessential transition, far more than the start of a calendar year somehow. This year is different, since Arthur Riesenfeld, class of 1955A, and the Stanford Medical Alumni Association president, died August 2, 2003. By-laws call for the president-elect to step in and so this unexpected transition is under way; I was president-elect.

Art’s life ended as he was engaged in a typical act for him, an act of friendship. Although he had congestive heart failure, he volunteered to take in a neighbor’s mail. He died after toiling up the friend’s driveway.

Art Riesenfeld was a Stanford med graduate of almost a half a century ago, yet he exemplified many of the qualities articulated in our school’s new mission statement. Art was a leader in medicine and medical organizations; an innovator – he used computer skills to develop a curriculum for special education students; a professional of highest rank – an internist, endocrinologist and a doctor’s doctor. As a teacher, he crossed boundaries as the only Jewish faculty member in Loma Linda’s medicine department. He earned the trust and respect of colleagues, patients and friends.

His personal qualities went beyond Stanford’s institutional goals. He was a humanist and musician. He was kind; he was funny (an important trait to get through tough times); and he was devoted. Even when he was not feeling well, he took on leadership responsibilities for his beloved Stanford and SMAA. He also made sure that his commitment was a lasting one: He left his estate to his alma mater. Thanks, Art.


Linda Hawes Clever, MD, ’65
President, Stanford Medical Alumni Association, 2003-04

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