Remembrances

From his time at the University of Wisconsin creating student health interviews, to his work at Beth Israel and Harvard Medical School innovating the way patients interact with their doctors, Warner has touched the lives of thousands of people. Below you can read the hundreds of comments that people have already left for Warner or view the archived news stories about Warner with the button above. And if you haven't already, we invite you to leave your memories of Warner.

Comments

Dr. W. Slack, whom I have known since 1971 is still a treasure to me. He was totally appreciative of my administrative support of the house staff program His concern for the house staff was evident in his interactions with them . He had excellent rapport with members and staff of his division .( Only yesterday, I was telling my 14 y.o. grandson about OMR, and talked about Warner and Howard )Tributes to the pioneers of OMR.) His pleasant demeanour shone thru to everyone who came in contact with him. Feeling blessed and lucky to have known him. Darsee R

I first met Professor Slack during a clinical computing practicum for GHHP 50: The Quality of Health Care in America, a Harvard College class he had previously taught and for which he was a continued guest lecturer, supporter, and friend. He later became my long-term advisor for independent research in health policy and for my Cordeiro Fellowship as I studied the impact and utilization of health IT on patient-physician relationships. As I navigated my academic and personal life, and encountered both hardships and successes, Professor Slack showed me what it is like to be a true mentor, constantly an unwavering teacher, supporter, and confidant. He is a model physician whose natural empathy connected him to others, the father of cybermedicine and a pioneer in his field and others, and in it all, a really, truly good person. He always asked me how my mom and brother were doing. Like he did his grandchildren, he would smile and tell me to hold up my fingers for the number of times he may have told me a story more than once—whether it be about family, his service in the wars, initiatives about standardized testing…the list goes on. He inspired dreams and set an example through his own visions and resilience, as an advocate for others and fighter in life; he embodied the true meaning of empathy and of empowering others. I will miss buzzing into DCI in Coolidge Corner and walking down to your corner office to see you working on your computer, and the conversations, experiences, and hopes we would share. Thank you so much for your mentorship and for everything, Professor Slack—for the mark you have made on the world, for the legacy you have left in your family and in medicine as we know it. I send my very warmest wishes to Carolyn and family. He spoke of all of you always, in person and in writing, and would tell me stories of you as we stood next to the family photos he had hanging by his desk. Professor Slack was and always will be one of the very best people I know. So lucky are we and the world to have had him.

We knew Dr Warner Slack to be such a warm, generoious , kind and loving soul. He and Carolyn opened their home to our family during a very difficult fortnight in our lives. We had taken our son to Boston Children’s Hospital for heart surgery. Coming from Perth Australia, Warner and Carolyn stepped into our lives to give us their support. Our son passed away and the Slack family took us to their hearts and provided a sanctuary, while we waited to be able to take our son to rest back in Perth. My friend and Warner’s sister in law phoned me to let us know of Warner’s passing. His memory remains large in our minds and hearts. Reading of all these wonderful reminders enables us all realise that it is possible to be both a very professional person and to have that coupled with very down to earth kindness and compassion. Our love to Carolyn and family.

Warner Slack was a very close and good friend. He was one of fewer than 15 full time faculty in medicine assembled by Howard Hiatt at the former Beth Israel Hospital in the late 1960s, and he interviewed me when I was applying to lead the new primary care efforts. Always a twinkle in his eye, ready to argue any point, focused, but also a fine listener and (to a degree) willing to compromise! As an example of his wonderful values, he and his long-term colleague, Howard Bleich, bridled at what they perceived as injustice, and that included the way medicine chose its trainees. Their studies were early in pointing out that we'd probably do just as well with a lottery... Warner's thoughts about 'patient power' affected much of my academic life. He was a great supporter of OpenNotes and our new adventure ( 'OurNotes') with patients and clinicians co-generating medical notes. What a wonderful man he was...such loss to the field and to many, many friends...

I remember Warner being annoyed with some paper we had written in the late 80s or early 90s (I don’t remember why now), and I was about to meet him in person and had my misgivings. What a warm reception I got from him, and what a warn reception I got every year I saw him at AMIA or elsewhere. He ended up certainly being one of my mentors on different levels. All these years, when I have thought of Warner, I just feel good, and I will continue to do so. A good soul.

Warner was one of the first people I met when I started at BIDMC. He helped me in so many ways: grants, mentorship, and above all those wonderful conversations: about the sizes of things, healthcare outcomes, and so many fantastic cognitive biases. What a wonderful scientist you were, Warner. What a wonderful human being. Wherever you are now, I hope you know what an inspiration you continue to be to me, and so many others. Thanks for spending some of your time with me.

I met Warner and Carolyn at Lasell Village some years ago. We always greeted each other warmly in the hall, bemoaning the state of the current world. When Pete Seeger died a few years ago, Warner insisted that we honor Pete by standing in the lobby of the dining room at Lasell, and singing We Shall Overcome. Warner was a mensch and will be sorely missed

A friend posted on Facebook a screen capture of Beth Israel Deaconess dept of medicine chair Mark Zeidel's column . I hope this link will show it for everyone. (Ideally someone can link to the original, or paste in the full text.) https://scontent.fbed1-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/36264271_198163114185632...

Recruiting Warner from the U of Wisconsin Hospital was among my most important achievements as Chairman of the Dept of Medicine at Beth Israel Hospital. He, of course, organized and directed our program in statistics and medicine and developed the use of computers for our department, resulting in an approach adopted by at least one other Harvard teaching hospital. Residents and medical students learned from him and from the very impressive colleagues that he recruited, nurtured and developed in his division. I was often told by colleagues in other medical schools and teaching hospitals how much they admired and benefited from the work of Warner and his colleagues. His pupils were not limited to the medical profession: a Brookline High School student who later became a journalist told me that 'Warner taught me how to ask questions.' When Don Berwick and I decided to give up teaching the course on the nation's health care problems and systems that we had organized for Harvard undergraduates, Warner took it on and ran it for several years. (The course continues and is still oversubscribed every year.) I can mention all of these things, but I cannot adequately describe how meaningful my personal relationship with Warner was to me. When I had a medical problem, Warner was there to ask how he could help. I cherished his friendship. The relationship with Warner led, of course, to a relationship with wonderful Caroline. How lucky I was and am.

Gregarious, idealistic, forward looking, caring, loving, generous and impactful are a few of the superlatives that come to mind in thinking about Warner. I remember my first Slack sighting at Washington U in St. Louis, when I was a fellow, and the then Chair of Medicine, Dave Kipnis was hosting a recruitment visit for two computer medicine docs (Slack and Bleich) from the BIH who were said to be at the cutting edge of their field. Little did I know that my good fortune was their decision to remain in Boston and for me to encounter Warner soon after my career began at the hospital. How I smile at the memories of Warner, Peter Goldman and me, a rumpled triumvirate, having lunch on a regular basis in order to 'solve the problems of the world.' The shared laughs, keen insights, over the top idealism, astonishing accomplishments, infectious enthusiasm coupled with humility will forever be my cherished memories of this special man. He touched so many of us, and left all of us better for it.

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