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Volume 16, Issue 3
March 2018


10,626 babies

Dr. Bair

When San Diego native Donald G. Bair completed his OB/GYN residency at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, he hoped to settle into private practice closer to home in California. Opportunities in Scottsdale, Arizona; Henderson, Nevada; and La Jolla, California beckoned.

His only caveat? Not Portland, Oregon. Though he had enjoyed his years at the University of Oregon Medical School (now OHSU), the Southern California boy wasn’t keen to return his family to the cold rainy winters of the Pacific Northwest. As he contemplated his options with wife Linda, he turned to God for direction by asking his father for a blessing to provide guidance, which is common in his faith as a Christian and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the blessing he was counseled to consider his chosen vocation a call to serve where he would be most useful. The answer to the prayers of both husband and wife left no doubt: the Portland Oregon metro area should be his field of labor.

Decades later, on the cusp of retirement from his practice at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Cedar Mill, Dr. Bair contemplates his legacy of service, both as a physician and a lay leader in the Church. That he has delivered approximately 10,626 babies over 41 years is no small accomplishment. And yet, after his many years in medicine, he still marvels at the experience of attending and assisting in a child’s birth. “Birth is new every time,” he says with a smile. “Babies are unique. Mothers are different—emotional capacity and circumstances change. I have been in a delivery room with as many as 29 people and have been with single mothers with no support. Most people may experience 1-2 births in a lifetime. To participate in so many is a gift.”

As Dr. Bair further explains in a letter written to his patients to announce his retirement, “A day has not gone by that I have not been enriched through my association with you. You have taught me a great deal about how to live life with compassion, love, commitment and humor.”

Many of those who know Dr. Bair feel that they have learned how to better live their lives by associating with him.

A long-time patient and colleague from his years of Church service, Pam Nielsen, shared her perspective in receiving care and in working with Dr. Bair to care for others spiritually, emotionally, and temporally. “There were problems in my pregnancies and I ended up losing two boys to stillbirths. I remember how grateful I was for the true kindness and understanding that Dr. Bair had at this difficult time. Dr. Bair made me feel like I was his only patient.”

Dr. Bair approaches his retirement with the same faith he exercised in his youth. “I just want to give,” Bair stated when asked about his future plans. “It’s time for Linda and I to give. We want to serve and we want to serve people.” After much deserved respite in warm and sunny St George, Utah, Dr. Bair and his wife will serve a medical/humanitarian mission for the Church in Florida. He is already preparing for the 2019 assignment by starting continuing education classes in primary care and undergoing training with the LDS Missionary Medical department in Salt Lake City, Utah. “My hope is that when we are out on a mission for the Church that we can just help people in the communities where we are called.”

Colleagues of Dr. Bair say that they will remember just how much time and attention he gave to his patients. They express that he has set a standard for patient care that other physicians can follow. One recalled that after every delivery he would go and get a warm blanket for the new mom.

Considering his lifetime of service, Bair confidently states that his only regret is that it has gone by too fast. “If I could, I would continue.” Indeed, his life exists as a towering example to others of always being ready to serve and to put others first. Brooks Johnson, born several weeks ago, was baby number 10,626.

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Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
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