Sefton Robert Wellings, M.D., Ph.D., passed away peacefully on March 8, 2011, in Palm Desert, at the age of 83. Sefton was born on Oct. 2, 1927 in Tacoma, Wash. He received his education at University of Washington (Seattle) and UC Berkeley, and completed his medical residency at the UC San Francisco Medical Center. With his Ph.D. in zoology, he specialized in marine biology and studied tumors in flatfish.
He joined the University of Oregon Medical School in Portland, Ore., in 1963 and the UC Davis Medical School in 1970. He served as chairman of the pathology department at both schools and became professor emeritus in 1987. He was board-certified in surgical, anatomic and forensic pathology, and is credited with discovering the earliest form of pre-cancerous breast cancer cells, allowing for earlier treatment of this deadly disease.
In his personal life, he most enjoyed reading, drawing, painting, hiking and bird-watching. He was preceded in death by his first wife and former Davis resident Marjorie. He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Carol, his five children, three stepchildren, two grandchildren and beloved dog, Paco. In recent years, Sefton and Carol divided their time between Palm Desert and Friday Harbor, Wash.
Sefton’s degrees were in medicine and biology, but his heart and mind were devoted to all of nature. He profoundly affected the way all of us who knew and loved him view the world, teaching us, as Vincent VanGogh put it, “If you love nature, you will see beauty everywhere.”