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  Charlotte Snow

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  > > Coming of age
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Ten Chicagoans master the art of growing older

image: "Coming of Age" headlineCatherine L. Dobson, 91  Catherine L. Dobson, MD'32, practiced obstetrics and gynecology for nearly 70 years, retiring three years ago as a clinical associate at the University of Chicago Hospitals. During her career, she spent a month each in Afghanistan, Tunis, Honduras, and Vietnam providing charitable medical care. Over the sofa in her Hyde Park retirement--home apartment hangs a painting of a young woman. Though the portrait is of her, she's quick to point out an inaccuracy: "You don't wear beads when you play the violin."

image: Catherine L. Dobson, 91"I was born on the West Side of Chicago, and I attended a boarding school in Davenport, Iowa. While there I made up my mind that I wanted to be a doctor and that never changed. Becoming an ob--gyn seemed the natural choice in a profession that didn't really recognize women. I was a resident at Cook County Hospital. Nothing was rare there. You saw everything.

"I stopped playing the violin when I started my medical practice. I was too busy. But I liked my patients. I loved the positive feeling of caring for them. It's very hard to say that any one particular medical advance stands out. Now the fathers are invited into the delivery room, whereas before they were not. They're part of the picture, as they should be. The more they understand, the better off the whole family is.

"The fact that you could be original, original in what you do and for whom you do it, has guided me. I worked in Vietnam during the war doing medical work. It was a completely different world. Part of the time you were afraid--afraid of getting in a taxi, afraid of being involved with the war effort. That was the main one. We didn't know it was going to be a war effort. I learned that people are not important to governments as individuals.

"I would tell young people to take it easy. Things are not necessarily what they seem. They should not be too worried about what they see, because they might be wrong. You're never through learning, really. Your work helps you develop and then you realize you've made it. You've been there. Your life's experienced."

link to: Marian Alschuler Despres and Leon Despres link to: top of the page link to: "Coming of Age" link to: Hortense Friedman


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