AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Gordon L. Doty, 1931-1993



I came to Portland, Oregon, in June of 1971 for my internship. I climbed South Sister in August. In September, I read about a Gordon Doty, who had just returned from an expedition to Mount Logan. Late one afternoon shortly thereafter, I was working up a patient on my medical rotation when the attending physician walked in. He said, “I am Gordon Doty.” I said, “Not Gordon Doty, the mountaineer.” He lit up with a smile as wide and bright as an alpine sunrise. With that, our friendship began.

During my internship, Gordon was obviously a mentor in medicine. I can still remember the things he taught me, I also remember his caring for both his patients and interns, his thoroughness, his competence, his reassuring bedside manner, and I am still in awe of the depth and breadth of his medical knowledge.

Gordon was born on April 3. 1931 in Belding, Michigan. He received his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University where he majored in wildlife management and ornithology. He graduated from Wayne State University School of Medicine in 1956 and completed his residency at the Detroit Receiving Hospital. In 1967, he joined the Hematology Clinic in Portland and the staff of the Providence Medical Center, where he became a leader in the development of the cancer program. He was instrumental in implementing the hospice demonstration project at Providence, serving from 1981 to 1984 as medical director of the Providence Hospice Program. From 1984 to 1986, he was president of the hospital’s medical staff.

To me personally, he was my introduction to mountaineering, my mentor of the mountains. In the 1970s, we made dozens of trips together and with others in the Washington and Oregon Cascades and in the Olympics. Gordon loved the mountains. He just liked being there, so we went no matter what the weather was like in Portland because “it could be sunny up on the mountain.” And sometimes he was right, but I remember a blizzard on Rainier, a white-out on Mount Hood and waiting for two days in a monsoon rain in the North Cascades.

I have tried to think of some humorous mishap that had befallen us on a Doty trip such as I experienced in the Alps when the professional guides drove us for three hours to the trailhead, opened the car trunk to find that they had left behind the ropes. I could think of none! Gordon was so well organized. He was innovative, always tinkering and puttering with his gear, trying to come up with a better way: like packframe extensions and mosquito-netting sacks to allow you to see what is inside, long before either was commercially available.

Things don’t always go as planned in the mountains and objective dangers are always there, but Gordon was one of the safest climbers I have ever been with. The climbers and their safety were more important than getting to the top. He had an uncanny ability to know when to retreat. I remember occasions when we bailed out in time or would have become the next “ice men.”

Gordon joined the American Alpine Club in 1978 and was chairman of the Oregon Section of the AAC in 1980. Among other awards, he received the Exceptional Service Award from the Providence Medical Center in 1991 and the Internist of the Year Award in 1992. The Oregon Cancer Survivors Committee named him the Health Care Professional of the Year in 1992. He is survived by his wife, the former Nancy Moorman, three daughters and seven grandchildren.

Berg Heil, Gordon! It has been a great honor and privilege to know you. Thank you for all you did for me and countless others. I will miss you.

Hugh B. McMahan, M.D.