Bio – Vernon Clarence Bohr

Medical School GraduationThe Octogenarian-Later YearsMy greatest accomplishment is my arrival to the ripe old age of eighty-seven. As an adolescent in Normandy, luck spared me during an artillery bombardment. In subsequent years, I have emerged unscathed from a plane crash, miraculously survived a horrendous auto accident and eluded the charge of a wounded cape buffalo. While helicopter skiing, I had to extricate myself from a deep tree well and schuss down the mountain with four broken ribs and a punctured lung. Marsha and I have been stopped at gunpoint in Burundi and held, against our will, by tribesmen in Tibet. Fate has often smiled upon us. Now we live in a garden rich with memories of a zestful past. However, even more important than having survived the caprices of life, I am thankful that I had the good fortune to be a physician.

I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, into humble beginnings. My parents were hardworking and God-fearing but minimally educated people. They aspired to have their children accomplish more than they had achieved. Thanks to their sacrifices, the course of my life has far exceeded the wildest dreams of my childhood.

I was a product of the great American depression and raised in a simple and conventional environment. All of this changed in my late teenage years. Through the courtesy of the United States government, I received a tour of Europe with all expenses paid. I spent the summer of 1944 amongst the bloody hedgerows of Normandy. Subsequently, my unit participated in every major campaign in Northern Europe including the Battle of the Bulge. I’m certain that my interest in medicine partly arose from my war experiences as a medic.

Returning from the war, I pursued my educational activities with a vengeance. Armed with a brand new PhD at age twenty-seven, I embarked upon a career of teaching and research. As a result, I was inaugurated into the honorary scientific society, Sigma Xi. Finding that a scientific career was not personally satisfying, I completed my medical studies with the class of 1960. Prior to graduation I was admitted to the honorary fraternity, Alpha Omega Alpha.

During the immediate years after graduation, a failing marriage and religious doubts stimulated much introspection. Thus arose my interest in psychiatry as a career. As part of my psychiatric training, I engaged in a long personal psychoanalysis. Not only did this help to resolve many conflicts, but it also assisted me in becoming a more comfortable and productive human being.

When in a pensive mood, I can look back upon a highly satisfying and varied career as a professor, scientist, practitioner, administrator, business man and founder of a psychiatric hospital. I have been listed in Who’s Who among American Men of Science and Who’s Who in the West. My administrative duties have included the position of medical director of three different psychiatric hospitals as well as serving as the president of the medical staff of a large community hospital.

At present, an arthritic foot (the result of old injuries) limits my physical activities to a faithful exercise program and playing golf. Although a terrible golfer, I have scored four holes-in-one. For years I have nursed passions for tennis, skiing and scuba diving. Marsha and I have been fortunate to visit all of the continents on earth, including Antarctica. We have done high altitude hiking in the Himalayas, climbed Kilimanjaro, been big-game hunting in Africa, river rafted on several continents and scuba dived all over the world. Special thrills included spending several days with a family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda and observing wild orangutans in Borneo. My buttocks suffered serious bruising during a long camel safari with Sir Edmond Hillary (the camel is a horrible creature to ride). As a result of such activities, I was nominated to membership in the prestigious Explorers Club of New York. My quieter pursuits include writing short stories and poetry, interest in contemporary art and music, and attending small production movies. I have become reasonably fluent in Spanish and read Spanish novels and literature in Spanish. We enjoy a satisfying and extremely active social life. Living in Pasadena near Cal Tech and the Jet Propulsion Lab, we have access to a diverse and highly interesting coterie of people. Amongst these I must mention my involvement in a small philosophical group that convenes regularly to ponder the dilemmas of being.

I frequently jest that none of my children are incarcerated or on drugs; all have graduate training and successful careers, are self sufficient and no longer are on the dole. Most importantly, they seem to enjoy our company. Amongst them, they have produced eight healthy grandchildren.

Extremely good fortune smiled upon me when I married Marsha. She has been a wonderful soul mate, play mate and a mainstay in my life. Both of us see ourselves as spiritual beings. However, the many years of practicing psychiatry as well as an extensive study of world religions has led me to be sympathetic with a variety of beliefs. I treasure my religious background but feel that I have outgrown it. As Saint Paul said, “now that I am not a child I have put away childish things.” Any claim that one can posses an all-encompassing and unique truth bothers me. In my opinion, such exclusivity fosters ignorance and intolerance. Philosophically, I agree with Gandhi who expressed his aversion to narrow-minded proselytizing by saying, “conversion is the deadliest poison that ever sapped the fountain of truth.”

5 Responses to Bio – Vernon Clarence Bohr

  1. David Simone says:

    Vernon, you are a spectactular spirit of man. I’ve read every word of your letter. Enthralling. Just. goddam. enthralling. You are an amazing, amazing man, Sir, am I am grateful and proud and so thankful you are my friend, rare, honest, funny — a bastard of the highest caliber ;).

    Love you, Brother…very much.

    Your Friend,

    Honey Badger.

  2. sasa says:

    What can I say ………………….. WOW amazing 🙂

  3. Bob Levis says:

    As you know, my heart surgery last October has slowed down my getting into your web site; but I’m catching up! I just finished reading your “bio.” I’m reminded of a friend of mine, Doug Richardson, a lawyer who lived in Glendale. He was the treasurer of the Alliance Francaise when I took over briefly as president and director of their school. He and Bill Bogard advised me!! But it wasn’t until he passed away and I attended his funeral that I learned about his life. I feel blessed that you have not only written a few small books, but have now gotten into this web site. Thus, I don’t have to wait until you too, like most of us, will no longer be in the flesh, too have a more complete picture of your rich life. (fyi: But for the Grace of God, as they say, I could have joined you in ’44 in Europe; but, for some reason, after Basic Training, I put myself down as a Civil Engineer for the ASTP, instead of the Mechanical Engineer that I was. Had I been honest, I would have ended up at Drexel like my buddies who in turn ended up spending the winter of’ ’44 with you in Europe!! etc., etc.

    Now, as we meet twice an month at the Greenstreet Restaurant, we can enjoy asking ourselves, “Where do we go from here?” (I am reminded of you often showing up there and asking us, “How have you ‘beeeen!” etc., etc.)

  4. Kathleen says:

    I wish I’d had the good fortune to live closer to you …I love this mini bio…and while I cannot honestly say I agree completely with all of your thoughts nonetheless I admire your candor,wit and overwhelming spirit!

    I last saw your spirit-filled Victoria in Montauk at Megan’s wedding and I hold fond memories still of sitting under a lovely old ELM in Geneva with Marsha’s mum to escape the sun at their graduation as we listened to Chinua Achebe tell his tale and the story of Marsha’s father and the chief with the hernia to end all hernias! It was a delightful weekend.
    May you continue for a very long time. How blessed are your children and little grands to have these musings!… are we all!

    To you I raise my glass as an aging Irish lass,

  5. Hello Dr. Bohr. I thought I would just say hi. I worked with you at Ingleside between 1970 and 1974. I was in the Social Services Department under Mike Serisawa and Johana Weibe. I was the annoying guy that asked too many questions of you and Jerry Silverman. Thank you for you early mentoring as I was very much in the rough at 22, I’m now 68 and continue to practice psychology in Camarillo, Ca.

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