A Gentleman and a Scholar
William M. Tucker
Published online: 14 September 2007
Ó Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007
I remember Dr. Kolb (I could never think of him as ‘‘Larry’’) as one of the last gentlemen,
a true representative of the old school, someone with a clear sense of priorities and values.
On our ﬁrst day as residents, he gathered us together to give us a single precept: ‘‘You are
all here to learn, and I believe you will learn a lot, but just remember: your ﬁrst respon-
sibility is to your patients, so be ready, if one of them needs you, to leave off whatever
academic work you are engaged in and go to his side.’’
Besides his own example of how to be a clinician, he taught us something our other
teachers did not emphasize: to look for the patient’s strengths. ‘‘Yes, yes,’’ he would
respond to our litany of the patient’s symptoms, ‘‘but what does he do well? What does he
care about?’’—in other words, who is this PERSON, after all?
Long after my residency, after he had stepped down from being Commissioner of
Mental Health, I met him again, in his last years, when he had returned to his earlier work
in post-traumatic stress and was conducting physiological research at the VA in Albany.
Still buoyed up by transferential feelings toward him, I asked the ‘‘big question’’: would it
ever be possible to resolve the issues around rationing of healthcare, so that at least a
modicum of it could be delivered to everyone?’’ ‘‘Certainly,’’ he replied, ‘‘it would be
possible; however, too many people are making too much money out of the system as it is.
That is the real problem.’’
We all miss his vision and his integrity. We hope his last years, mostly in Georgia, were
happy ones for him. There are precious few like him.
Psychiatr Q (2007) 78:255