Press Releases

San Diego, CA, November 2018.- It is with great sadness that the Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research announces the passing of Dr. Doris Howell.  She passed peacefully in her sleep early in the morning on Friday, November 23, 2018, just short of her 95th birthday.  Dr. Howell will be lovingly remembered by her family, Peggy Oechsle, cousin and longtime companion; nieces Alison Denman and family, and Faye Henris and family; nephew Clay Perfall and family; and Barbara Bollinger, cousin and longtime supporter of the Howell Foundation; as well as by friends and past and current Howell Foundation Board Members.  

“What a remarkable soul Dr. Howell is - to have affected so much change for the community while moving many to carry her legacy forward.  We are thinking of you all as well at this time; because so many of you knew her and have supported her vision of advancing women's health research and education”, comment Board Co-chairs Abigail D’Agostino and Kathleen Franklin.   “She is an inspiration to the many who know and love her.”

Doris A. Howell, M.D., a graduate of McGill University, was devoted to improving the lives of others. Her pervasive humanitarian outreach to those in need and to education is legendary.  In addition to the recognition on behalf of the Mayor’s office in 2013, Dr. Howell was also the recipient of the McGill University Life Time Achievement Award in October, 2013.  Tributes to a life-long focus on health and education include numerous awards: the Salvation Army Woman of Distinction Award, the Humanism Award from the Health Care Foundation of New Jersey, and awards for leadership and service from the American Academy of Pediatrics. She has been listed in Who's Who in American Women.

A Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist, and an internationally renowned leader in pediatrics and hospice care, she was a faculty member at Harvard and Duke University Schools of Medicine, chair of the Dept. of Pediatrics at the Medical College of Pennsylvania, and on the faculty of UCSD School of Medicine where she chaired the Dept. of Community and Family Medicine. Serving on the San Diego Hospice Board of Directors from its inception, she was a driving force for San Diego Hospice, now a model of care that is recognized throughout the nation. She was elected Director Emerita in 1989. 

Upon her formal retirement, Dr. Howell began to focus on the critical need to improve women's health care and research. She and concerned members of Soroptimist International of La Jolla began awarding research grants to young scholars. In 1995, the Soroptimists honored Dr. Howell by establishing the Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women's Health Research, an independent nonprofit foundation.  Until 2017, she was still an active member of the board as Chair, Emeritus.   

Her philosophy was simple and will live in the hearts of the Howell Foundation’s Board Members and “Friends”: women play an important role in the family’s wellbeing.   Through her guiding philosophy of "Keeping the Women We Love Healthy" Dr. Howell strived to ensure the health of women and their families.  “Acknowledging gender differences in health care and treating women according to such differences; raising the glass ceiling for future female doctors is part of what motivates the Foundation.  And what better way to do it than with the collaboration and inspiration of Dr. Howell,” comments Pattie Wellborn, a long-time friend and Chair of the Howell Foundation from 2010-2015.   

Dr. Howell led the Board of the Doris A. Howell Foundation with great commitment.  Her legacy is the incredible passion to help others and advance women’s health research, recognized by past and current Board Members who came to know her as a colleague and a friend.

The family is planning a private service in memory of Dr. Howell.  The Howell Foundation will dedicate their work and celebrate her legacy during the programmed events throughout 2019.   

If so inclined, family members ask that donations in memory of Dr. Howell be made to: 

The Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research

 PMB 320

7514 Girard Avenue #1

La Jolla, CA 92037 

The Elizabeth Hospice

500 La Terraza Blvd. Ste. 130

Escondido, CA 92025




  1. Providing grants for women's health research to promising undergraduates
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  2. Sponsoring symposia, learning luncheons and other educational outreach mechanisms concerning women's health and related issues.
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