A. H. “Buddy” Giesecke, Jr.: An Inspirer
|“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” William Arthur Ward|
Dr. Adolph H. “Buddy” Giesecke, Jr., Professor Emeritus of Anesthesiology and Pain Management, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Texas, died on Christmas Eve, 2011.
Dr. Giesecke, whose remarkable career spanned more than five decades, is considered an icon in the field of anesthesiology. He has been recognized for his many accomplishments. He received numerous awards and honors, including the Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Society of Anesthesiologists and Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Trauma Anesthesia and Critical Care Society. He served on the Board of Governors of the American College of Anesthesiology and Board of Directors of the Committee on Accreditation of Emergency Medical Systems Programs. He served as president of the Dallas County Anesthesiology Society, the Texas Society of Anesthesiologists and the International Trauma Anesthesia and Critical Care Society. In addition, his role in the resuscitative efforts of President John F. Kennedy and Governor John Connally is well recognized.
Dr. Giesecke is renowned for his contributions to the fields of trauma and obstetric anesthesiology, as well as for his defining role in paramedic-based emergency medicine. He authored or co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, editorials and abstracts, as well as numerous book chapters mostly concerning trauma anesthesia, obstetrical anesthesia, and the history of anesthesia.
Nevertheless, Dr. Giesecke’s legacy will be the hundreds of anesthesiologists whom he has trained or otherwise touched, who will carry on his traditions of compassionate patient care, education and service to medicine and the community at large. He had many endearing qualities. Most importantly, he was spiritual. The spiritual values by which he lived all his life were passed on to those he encountered. He was a loyal and self-sacrificing man. He had strict principles and he was faithful to them. He lived by and advised others to come to work early, stay late and work hard. He demanded excellence without compromise. He lived by that credo more than most are able to do.
Dr. Giesecke’s humility, combined with an open mind, made him approachable. He embraced diversity and was always happy to hear another point of view. These characteristics made it easy to communicate with him as a friend and colleague rather than a superior and powerful person. He was instrumental in shaping the careers of many, and his unique approach to mentoring inspired and energized others around him.
Dr. Giesecke was a real mentor, acting selflessly behind the scenes while gently and consciously veering people towards a predetermined course. His deeds were performed without bringing attention to his personal contributions. He never looked for the limelight and he would often insist that his name not be included on a project, although he had contributed substantially to it. He believed that including his name would divert the attention from the person he wanted to promote.
Although he would never have considered himself an effective politician, he loved being involved in the process and always encouraged young residents and faculty to become involved in UT Southwestern and Parkland Committees, as well as local, state, and national professional associations. He was always his own “best critic” and once remarked that in a political setting he would raise his hand to make a point and then proceed to stand up and put his foot in his mouth. Nevertheless, there was always an important lesson made.
He had a poster in his office with a quote on politics by Raymond Moley – “Politics is not something to avoid, to abolish or destroy. It is a condition like the atmosphere we breathe. It is something to live with, influence if we wish and control if we can. We must master its ways or we shall be mastered by those who do.”
Edward “ERJ” Johnson, Professor Emeritus of Anesthesiology and Pain Management, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Texas, stated that “Buddy was many things to many people, but to me he was a brother, mentor, chief, role model and mainly an example of what it means to live your life while remaining “faithful” to the people and values you hold most dear. Buddy believed in being faithful – to his family, church, patients and profession.” One of the visiting professors at UT Southwestern commented, “Buddy epitomized for me a southern gentleman – always polite and thoughtful.”
Dr. Giesecke, born April 19, 1932 in Oklahoma City, was inspired to study medicine by an uncle who was a medical officer in World War II. After attending Texas Military Institute in San Antonio in high school, he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1953, married Veronica Elizabeth Morel in 1954, and earned his medical degree from UT Medical Branch at Galveston in 1957.
He served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command from 1957 to 1958, as Captain from 1958 to 1960, earning an Army Commendation Medal in 1960. He interned at William Beaumont Army Hospital in El Paso and went on to attend the School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio.
In 1960, Dr. Giesecke began his residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital, where he had an opportunity to pursue his interest in trauma medicine. After a fellowship in anesthesiology research at UT Southwestern, he joined the faculty in 1963, and quickly achieved the rank of full Professor in 1969. During his tenure at UT Southwestern, he served as Fulbright Lecturer and Gastprofessor at the Institut fűr Anästhesiologie at Johannes Gutenberg Universität in Mainz, Germany from 1970 to 1971.
He briefly left UT Southwestern in 1973 to become Professor and Chair of Anesthesiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, but returned in 1974 as Vice-Chair of Anesthesiology. He became the first holder of the M. T. “Pepper” Jenkins Professorship in 1978.
In 1981, he succeeded Dr. Jenkins as Chairman of the department and Chief of anesthesiology at Parkland. He stepped down as Chairman in 1992, but continued to teach and mentor before retiring after 45 of service with UT Southwestern and becoming Professor Emeritus in 2005. The Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Management maintains the Giesecke Anesthesiology Library named for Dr. Giesecke in the Charles Cameron Sprague Clinical Science Building.
Dr. Giesecke was also active in civic and church affairs, including service as a Patron Member of the Irving Symphony Association and a Delegate to the annual convention for the Episcopal Dioceses of Dallas for several years. Buddy, as an only child, whose father died when Buddy was twelve, was keenly aware of the importance of family and always held his family in the utmost importance in his life. His wife, Roni, was his one true love and his devotion to her as she faced the challenges presented to her was awe-inspiring. His love for his four children and their families was apparent in the way Buddy planned and looked forward to the annual “Giesecke Family Reunion,” which was always held in an interesting location with some connection to Texas’ or the family’s past.
Dr. Giesecke was a great man, a friend, an educator, a mentor, a leader, and a healer. No words can do justice to his contributions. This is his legacy. We will miss him.
"We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give." Winston Churchill
Girish P. Joshi, MB BS, MD, FFARCSI
Professor of Anesthesiology and Pain Management
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
H.A. Tillmann Hein, MD
Clinical Professor of Anesthesiology and Pain Management
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
President, Texas Society of Anesthesiologists