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Obituary

Wayne Thomas Dodge

Wayne Thomas Dodge, born on August 24, 1950 in Tacoma, Washington, died of complications of a severe spinal cord injury in Seattle, Washington on September 5, 2021.

We could list all his accomplishments and degrees, but Wayne’s life was so much richer than these markers alone. From the time he was a very young child, his family and friends called him ‘Doc’ because he was already caring for others and because of his immense curiosity, always asking ‘why?’

Wayne did become a doctor, studying first at Yale University and University of Rochester School of Medicine, earning degrees in medicine and public health and, later, certifications in geriatrics and HIV care. He joined Group Health Cooperative (now Kaiser Permanente Washington) in 1981 as a family practice physician, where he served as Clinical Director of an 18-practitioner Medical Clinic and led the Group Health response to the AIDS pandemic for the State of Washington. After retirement from active practice in 2014, he continued to work for Kaiser as a part-time contracted physician and volunteered for End of Life Washington as a medical counselor.

Wayne was happiest in the clinic, working hands-on with patients. In his healing role, Wayne believed that listening to his patients was the most important part of his job, always open to lessons they might teach him about how to best treat their illnesses.

Because he was as interested in his patients’ emotional health as their physical health, he began to teach practices of mindful living and self-compassion at The Haven, a personal and professional growth retreat center in Canada, bringing his remarkable, calm, caring, patient, thorough, generous self to this coaching role. Wayne drew deeply on these practices himself, demonstrating courage and stamina as he negotiated all the challenges of his injury. He worked hard for over five months to create a life after this disaster, connecting with his loved ones and caregivers with consistent kindness, respect and grace, always teaching and learning, living in the mystery of what life still asked of him.

Wayne was brilliant and enormously curious, approaching any dialogue with an open and listening heart, consistently showing up and carefully cultivating friendships that endured over years. He had a voracious appetite for learning. He was an avid reader across multiple genres with home library stacks that could become a branch of the Seattle Public Library.

Wayne was a loving partner and husband to Larry Kreisman for over 39 years, and together they crafted an exquisite home filled with beauty, welcome and love. They also found ‘a heart home’ with each other, embracing their connection and love of travel, art, and the beauty of the Arts and Crafts period. Wayne supported Larry’s work in architecture, design, and historic preservation, not just by patting him on the back, but by physically being the back up on walking and driving tours and attending dozens of his lectures to the point where he could present them verbatim. They were each other’s ground, center, home, mirror, and support, joining their different personalities and perspectives to make a whole life that blended their respective worlds of richness, variety and mystery.

Wayne was a gardener, happiest with his hands in the dirt. He had a great passion for Japanese maples and never saw one he didn’t love, creating a backyard oasis of color and leaf. At the Lummi Island Retreat, he had great satisfaction from full days of pruning orchard trees, trimming alder and shrubs, pulling out blackberries, planting bulbs, and weeding.

Music brought him joy throughout his life, starting with singing harmony with his mother, brother and sister while doing dishes as a child and time in the Glee Club and Whiffenpoofs at Yale. He had a huge repertoire of tunes and could burst into song at the drop of a hat to enrich a gathering or conversation. In his work at Haven, he searched for and cataloged songs to use in his classes to enrich the participants’ healing. Every year he hosted family and friends at the Seattle Men’s Chorus concert, a highlight of the holiday season for everyone.

Family was the axis of Wayne’s life. He chose to be a father and nurtured a deep and abiding relationship with his daughter, Robin Grote, sharing a sense of humor and delight in deep and winding conversations. He also cherished his relationship with Robin’s husband, David Grote and his two granddaughters, Cora and Marion.

Wayne was always in the middle of family gatherings filled with music and great food, wielding the knife to carve the turkey or prime rib, and saving a bone to happily gnaw for himself. He was surrounded by other family members who also loved him deeply – sister Marie Eaton, her wife, Mary Ellen O’Keefe and their children Edward (partner Liz Holguin) and Malaika Eaton (husband Michael Eaton), brother Bruce Dodge and his children Tova Tangeman (husband Josh Tangeman) and Nathan Dodge, and a multitude of nieces and nephews (Macail, Liam, Kaia, Carver, Esme, Olivia, Christine, Scarlett, Autumn), and Larry’s sister and brother-in-law, Paula and Uri Bernstein and niece Dani Bernstein and wife Rachel Bernstein. His beautiful baritone voice, delightful conversation and loving care will be deeply missed by all of them.

Wayne’s family is so grateful for the excellent care Wayne received over the past five months from the medical, nursing, and aide workers at Harborview/UW Medicine, Swedish First Hill, and especially Horizon House Assisted Living.

Wayne always brought all of himself to every interaction or task, inspiring all he touched through both work and play. In the words of one of the people who holds him dear for the work he did with Wayne at Haven, “I always felt held by him.” Now he has completed his work, but the ripples of his compassion, caring and wisdom will continue to spread in wide circles through all who remember him with love.

Donations to remember and honor Wayne can be given to End of Life Washington (https://support.endoflifewa.org/a/portal), King-FM (https://www.king.org/donate/), the Seattle Public Library Foundation (https://supportspl.org/ways-to-give/), Historic Seattle (https://historicseattle.org/give/), the Conant Dodge Scholarship at the Western Washington University Foundation (https://foundation.wwu.edu/how-make-gift) or The Haven (https://haven.ca/giving/) to help them continue the important work that inspired him.

Or you can plant a Japanese maple!

The family encourages your memories and comments. Please visit and share with others who knew Wayne, learned and grew with him, and were inspired by his curiosity, insight, and goodwill.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KtinajoKXf-ttSz5kDnaLDkN1cjr3_CHv7gu3MlTjJM/edit

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