When I arrived to begin my trauma research fellowship at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center in August of 1971, I was assigned to share laboratory space with another trauma fellow. Upon entering the lab, I noticed my new colleague concentrating on the electrical wave forms displayed on the screen of a very complicated piece of machinery. He turned, showed the grin that would become the defining characteristic of his personality, and welcomed me.
Don, my new lab-mate, proceeded to introduce me to all the research team members. I soon met Jane, Kristi and Derek; after my first son was born in February of 1972, Jane became his baby sitter. We had a wonderful professional and personal friendship during that year; fortunately for me, that relationship continued throughout our entire careers.
Don returned to San Francisco General Hospital and I stayed for a second year of research before finishing my training and joining the faculty at the University of Louisville. Don was making major contributions to the knowledge of trauma systems in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s; his advice and guidance were invaluable as I began to develop a trauma system for the state of Kentucky.
I loved watching Don use humor and intelligence to become a surgical leader and to work with him while he became, in my opinion, the foremost academic trauma surgeon of the last half of the 20th and the first two decades of the 21st century.
Most valuable, though, was the personal relationship with Jane and Don. For nearly two decades the “Sun-fun family”, our group of four trauma surgeon couples, vacationed each January on a select Carribean island. We cooked, ate, drank, told tall tales, made up funny names for one another, and laughed constantly. Jane and Don set the tone that guided the Sun-funs. To be able to live that experience was a joy, a privilege, and an honor that I will treasure forever.