It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of a remarkable woman who was greatly loved and inspired us all. She truly believed that the way to fight bias against female in research was through education. In doing so, she touched the life of many.
Devoted to improving the lives of others, her pervasive humanitarian outreach to those in need and to education is legendary. She was well loved.
Known as the “Mother of Hospice” in our community, Doris A. Howell, M.D. was a graduate of McGill University. A Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist, and an internationally renowned leader in pediatrics and hospice care, she was a faculty member at Harvard and Duke Schools of Medicine, Chair of the Dept. of Pediatrics at the Medical College of Pennsylvania, and on the faculty of UCSD Medical School where she chaired the Dept. of Community and Family Medicine. Serving on the San Diego Hospice Board of Directors since 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.
In 2013, Interim Mayor Todd Gloria declared December 2nd as Doris Howell Day. In addition, Dr. Howell was also the recipient of the McGill University Life Time Achievement Award in October of the same year. 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.
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 non-profit foundation. Until 2017, she was an active board member of the Howell Foundation as Chair Emeritus.
It is comforting to know that her legendary legacy of helping others will continue. UC San Diego Health has named their palliative care teams after Dr. Howell. In 2012, KPBS honored Dr. Howell during Women’s History Month. Radys Children Hospital has also honored Dr. Howell when an anonymous donor gave the hospital a significant contribution in her name for the palliative care unit. In 2016, the CSU Institute of Palliative Care headquartered in Cal State San Marcos inaugurated the Doris Howell Award for Advancement of Palliative Care.
And the list goes on…
In addition to her work in the community, her dedication to the Howell Foundation is an inspiration to us all. To date, the Foundation has awarded over 240 research scholarships totaling over 680 thousand dollars for students at UCSD, USD Hahn School of Nursing, SDSU, CSUSM and the CSU system. The Howell outreach program has reached many women in the community at more than 100 events celebrated since its inception in 1995. The Community Engagement Initiative, launched in 2012, has supported research geared towards improving the health of underrepresented women in our community. Most recently, the Howell Foundation established mechanisms to support meaningful research studies that provide the tools for women to become their best health care advocates – such as the Wisdom Study — as one of its initiatives.
Can you imagine her legacy?
As we celebrate her birthday — she would have turned 95 years young on December 2nd — we realize that it is only logical that she received the respect and admiration of many, as she was a “first” in oh so many ways.
If you have a minute, let us know how Dr. Howell impacted your life. As a matter of fact, let’s make December Dr. Howell Month!
You, Dr. Howell, will always be our first! Rest in peace. You were dearly loved and will be sorely missed.