Quite a man!

By | November 16, 2017

I’ve written at various times about my father, Dr. Warren C. Eveland, both personally and professionally. From time to time, I have heard from some of his former students about the influence that he had on them and their careers. Recently, I heard from one of them who had come across this website and was moved to get in touch. I hope he won’t mind my sharing his comment:

“I was at the SPH 1971-72 in your father’s Lab Practice program. I’ve often described this period as an especially rich and rewarding time. Your dad made all of his students feel like they were his own (ala “Docktor/Vater”), and the feeling was generally reciprocated.”

Here’s what I wrote back to him:

“I do appreciate your thoughts about Father. They very much parallel those I’ve heard over the years from his other students (I suppose some people didn’t like him, but they wouldn’t have much cause to talk to me.) There were several guys who first met him when as draftees they were assigned to him as know-nothing junior lab techs, who eventually wound up as PhD scientists due to his mentoring and help. He would help anyone who wanted to be helped; that was part of his character.

Father died in 1989 (oddly enough, the same day as the Loma Prieta earthquake that rocked the Bay Area during the World Series -they were living in Carmel at the time). When his younger brother Lloyd died some years later, he left $1 million to UC Berkeley to fund an endowed chair in Father’s name in microbiology. It’s now occupied by Dr. Susan Marqusee, who does research in “the structural and dynamic information encoded in the linear sequence of amino acids”. I’ll share with you here the original message I sent her when I found out she was holding his chair:

‘Following a bit of googling upon my receipt of the annual Berkeley report, I find that you are listed as holding the endowed chair named for my father, Dr. Warren C. Eveland. The chair was created as the result of a memorial bequest by his late half-brother Lloyd Eveland, and I’ve never been sure if the funds actually went to an identifiable person or just got co-mingled into all the rest of the university. I’m pleased to see that you are real!

My father’s life was fundamentally altered by his attending Berkeley in the 1920s. He was a farm kid from the Central Valley. His grandfather had originally come to California from Ohio before the Gold Rush (I’ve observed on occasion that he actually came to California as an illegal immigrant from Ohio), but his father had fallen into poverty. At Berkeley, Father was able to acquire the lifelong taste for science that carried him into microbiology and a career that mixed service in the military with high-quality academics.

He was one of the pioneers of the fluorescent antibody technique, and applied it to many different situations. (At one point I got to be his lab animal, when he needed some human anti-typhoid serum.)The last 15 years of his career were spent at the School of Public Health of the University of Michigan, where he directed the Laboratory Practice Program. Father’s strongest suit was always his teaching and mentoring capabilities, and his ability to interest others in science.

My daughter is now an MD and Associate Medical Director for Primary Care with the San Francisco Department of Public Health (she was previously Clinical Director for Special Populations at the Mission Community Health Center.) Her interests in and commitment to science are due in no small part to my father’s influence; she also graduated from Berkeley as an undergraduate, as did her mother. So there’s a generational thing going on there with the university.

I’m semi-retired myself now, after a long and interesting career in organizational psychology and information systems. But I follow the biological sciences with great interest. There’s no question that it’s an exciting time to be working in your area of specialization; Father would be fascinated by it all!

I apologize for taking your time here, but I thought that you might be interested to know that your Chair originated with a real person, one who had great influence on many young scientists and was all around a great man. I know that you will continue to bring credit to the Eveland name through your own work!

I think of Father a lot, and I’m glad there are still others who do as well. And I’m glad that I have this platform through which I can share my own remembrance of him and the impact that he had on the world as well.