Jan. 21, 1910 – May 7, 2013
Herbert Bauer died at home on May 7, 2013, at age 103. He was a fearless health pioneer and lifelong committed liberal and promoter of peace.
Born in Vienna, Austria, on Jan. 21, 1910, he was home-schooled by his mother until age 10. He caught up quickly when he entered school and was soon teaching classical Latin and Greek to help support his family and his own education in college and medical school.
He was a resident in internal medicine when the Nazis took over Austria and targeted him as a liberal student leader. He left through the back window as the Nazis knocked on his front door. He traveled to Milan, Italy, where he had an aunt and then to London to tutor Hanna Goldsmith, who would become his future wife.
Coming to America in 1939, Hanna studied psychology at UC Berkeley while Herbert interned at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco. He became the only physician at the San Luis Obispo County Hospital during World War II. They were married at the courthouse in Santa Barbara.
After the war, he entered the first class at the UC Berkeley School of Public Heath and became the tuberculosis control officer in Sacramento County, and then in 1952, became the first full-time public health officer in Yolo County. Always on the cutting edge, he personally vaccinated more people against polio than anyone in the state. His well baby clinics were known far and wide for their good-sense parenting advice.
He established the first family planning clinics to help people have as many — or as few — children as they wanted. In routine health screenings, he asked if patients had ever considered killing themselves and began volunteer suicide prevention groups. He advocated for the passage in California of the Short Doyle Legislation to establish community mental health programs, and once enacted, set about to bring those services to the Yolo community by gaining the support of the Board of Supervisors in that trail-blazing endeavor.
One of his great gifts was succinctness. His favorite poem was the limerick. He complained that many speakers lacked “terminal facility,” the ability to make their point and stop.
Herbert was an active member of a wide array of health, justice and peace organizations, including the Davis Unitarian Church, of which he was a founding member; the Davis Democratic Club; the United Nations chapter in Davis; the Yolo Family Service Agency; Physicians for Social Responsibility; and the Chowder and Marching Society. He was a charter member of the Yolo County Mental Health Association and a founding member and past president of the Yolo County Medical Society.
Both Herbert and Hanna were named Covell Citizens of the Year in Davis in 1976. In 1996, the California Medical Association awarded Herbert the Plessner Memorial award as “the physician who best exemplifies the practice and ethics of a rural practitioner.” In 2000, the Sierra-Sacramento Medical Society awarded him the Golden Stethoscope, recognizing him as the “mentor, adviser, teacher resource and friend” over many years to his medical colleagues.
In 2006, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors named the new Health and Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health building in Woodland for Herbert Bauer, M.D.
After 20 years serving as Yolo County’s public health officer, Dr. Bauer completed residency training in child psychiatry and practiced for the next 15 years as a child psychiatrist and as a professor of preventative medicine. He then studied at both Berkeley and Oxford to obtain a certificate in bioethics.
He will be remembered for his sharp wit, pithy observation on the world and human condition, his letters to the editor and his substitute columns for Bob Dunning, who called him the “Conscience of Davis.”
He is survived by his sons Timothy of Seattle and Christopher of Nashville, Tenn., as well as grandchildren Jonathan Bauer of Los Angeles and Zoe Bauer of Nashville.
A celebration of life will begin at 2 p.m. Friday, June 28, 2013, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, 27074 Patwin Road. In lieu of flowers, please donate time, money or both in Dr. Herbert Bauer’s memory to promote health, education or peace organizations of your choice.