William J. Dignam, MD

William Dignam

1920 - 2006

Dr. William J. Dignam a revered professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, physician to many, and an exemplary mentor passed away December 5, 2006. He was born August 11, 1920 in Manchester New Hampshire and graduated from Dartmouth College, a scholastic relationship that he was eternally proud of. His medical degree was from Harvard University, after which he took postdoctoral training at Kansas Medical Center and at Duke University Hospital. Dr. Dignam served as a lieutenant in the United States Navy in World War II.

He was one of the founding members of the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in UCLA starting his fifty four year career there in 1953. At the university he served many important positions besides being the "keystone" member of the department. He was chair of the academic senate, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and in his retiring years (which never really occurred, although he had many retirement parties and testimonies) he took over the student teaching program with enthusiasm and dedication rarely seen in today's academic environment.

He had been a visiting professor at the University Geneva, the Universite of Rene Descartes in Paris, France and the University of London.

Dr. Dignam also held leadership positions in many of our national organizations. He was president and chairman of American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, President of the American Gynecologic and Obstetrical Society to site just a few. In addition he was the recipient of numerous international honors, including Honorary President of the Society of Gynecology of France, Consultant to the Royal Australian College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Fellow ad eundem of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Carter Day Speaker at the National Maternity Center of Dublin Ireland.

At UCLA he garnered every teaching award including the Sherman Melnikoff Teaching Award, the Golden Apple Award, the Excellence in Education Award and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Award for Teaching and Mentoring Award. He was also rewarded the Outstanding Teachers Award by the Los Angles Obstetrical and Gynecological Society and a Life Time Achievement Award by the Pacific Coast Obstetrical and Gynecological Society.

He was known as a compassionate, graceful and wise advocate for women's health and patient care. He was truly a dedicated clinician.

Dr. Dignam was survived by two sisters and his four daughters, Bret, Kevin, Erin and Meighen and fourteen grandchildren.

Dr. Dignam's wife, Wini Dignam, passed away July 17th 2007. Who said at his death "God must be dancing". As a couple they enlivened UCLA

His smile told it all warm, wise, companionate but with a twinkle.

Submitted by Alan DeCherney, M.D.

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