Thursday, May 3, 2001

A.A. "Bud" Smyser

UH medical
school awards Smyser
an honorary degree

The late Star-Bulletin editor
is recognized for his support of
hospice and death with dignity

By Helen Altonn

The University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine has conferred an honorary Doctor of Medicine degree upon the late A.A. "Bud" Smyser "in recognition of his lifetime support of hospice, pain relief and death with dignity."

University Smyser began working at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as a reporter in 1946, moving into positions as city editor, managing editor, editor in chief and editorial page editor. He retired in 1983 but continued to write a column, "Hawaii's World," until his death March 19 after a fall at his home.

His last three columns are reprinted in the April issue of the Hawaii Medical Journal, edited by Dr. Norman Goldstein.

In a tribute to Smyser, Goldstein wrote that he "touched a lot of people in Hawaii with his early support of Hawaii statehood, promotion of the Kaiser Permanente Health System, the Star-Bulletin's stand on women's rights, formation of the East-West Center, fostering the hospice movement in Hawaii, relief for cancer patients and others with pain, advice to the terminally ill patients and their physicians, and finally in his stand on doctor-assisted death with dignity.

"Bud died, as he lived, with dignity," Goldstein wrote.

He suffered a massive brain hemorrhage in the fall. After emergency treatment at the Queen's Medical Center, "his family followed Bud's wishes in asking for no life-support measures. Bud passed away peacefully ... without the need of physician assistance."

Smyser served on the Governor's Blue Ribbon Panel on Living and Dying with Dignity and wrote "very insightful, pertinent columns" in the Star-Bulletin, Goldstein said.

The Hawaii Medical Journal through the years reprinted his articles dealing with hospice in Hawaii, reduction of pain in cancer patients and the controversy over doctor-assisted death with dignity.

Goldstein said he had planned to propose that the UH medical school grant Smyser an honorary medical degree for his support of hospice, pain relief and doctor-assisted death with dignity. "But Bud, as modest as he was, perhaps would have vetoed my proposal.

"Well, Bud, you can't edit me now, so here it is," Goldstein added, presenting an honorary degree signed April 6 by Dr. Ed Cadman, dean of the medical school.

Ka Leo O Hawaii
University of Hawaii

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