Tuesday, April 15, 2014
I met Lyle during third year of dental school at UW in 2004. At our first appointment, we learned that we had both studied government as college students and hit it off immediately. Over the next year, we spent many hours together in clinic - sometimes working on his teeth - mostly talking about politics, the state of the country, single payer health care systems, his work as an advocate for the vulnerable and disenfranchised, and public health.
We kept in touch throughout dental school. I'd go over to his house for dinner (he and his wife Bobby lived down the street from me) and I went to my first peace march with the Mercers at the Seattle Center during fourth year. As a dental school graduation gift, he and Bobby took me to the Pink Door in the Pike Place Market. We had an awesome dinner - I remember Lyle and I sharing an enormous tray of raw oysters.
After I moved to Iowa for residency training, Lyle kept in touch and sent me postcards, letters, and health-related newspaper clippings. When I moved back to Seattle in 2009, we reconnected. Life got super busy and I didn't get to see Lyle and Bobby as often as I should have. Two weeks ago, after giving a lecture in which I had recalled working with Lyle in dental school, I called Lyle and Bobby to make dinner plans. This is when I learned of Lyle's death.
Lyle led an amazingly rich life and fought tirelessly for progressive political causes as an upstanding U.S. citizen. He helped keep me on track during a professionally vulnerable time in my career. I started off as his student dentist and we quickly became friends. Rest in peace, Lyle.