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About Dr. Harold DickFood Journal

Eulogy of Dr. Harold Dick, N.D.

By Jared L. Zeff, N.D., LAc. (1994)

At approximately 8 a.m. November 30, 1994, Dr. Harold Dick passed away in his home in Spokane, Washington. Harold Dick was a rather gruff and deliberate man and second only to my father in his influence on my life and thinking. He was the truest practitioner of our art and science I have ever known and was the repository of a way of thinking almost lost to us.

The resurgence of Naturopathic medicine, which we are experiencing with increasing acceptance throughout our country, was not the kind of welcome that greeted him when he entered practice in November of 1955, 39 years ago. He was one of three graduates, if I recall correctly, of the Western States College N.D. program that year. The cessation of that program the following year ended the final N.D. degree program in the United States, which gave rise in 1956 to the birth of National College.

Dr Harold DickDr. Dick, with his wife Ruby, entered practice against the odds, driven by the knowledge that what they were doing was good and right and needed. But the times were not good for Naturopathic physicians. From 1950 to 1975 we lost licensure in well over half the states which licensed us at that time. We were held in suspicion and contempt by certain aspects of our society. The District Attorney of Spokane sought actively to put this “quack” out of business and literally prosecuted him. A policeman was stationed in Dr. Dick’s parking lot for three months to try to gather evidence against him from his patients. But they couldn’t get any, so they subpoenaed his patient files to see if they could create a complaint against him. They were successful. All this occurred in a licensed state to a licensed doctor. Such were the times of Dr. Dick’s early practice.

Dr. Dick learned and practiced in a direct line from Priessnitz, through Kneippe, Le Duc and O.G. Carroll, with whom he studied. Like many, he was led into his practice by his personal experience. Dr. Carroll cured him of a chronic infection with hydrotherapy and dietary changes and his brother of chronic stomach ulcers. This so impressed Harold that he wanted to become a Naturopathic physician. At the time, he had a successful auto repair business. He often joked with me that he was just an old car mechanic or that he should have stayed in the business where he could have made some real money by now. He was advised by Dr. Carroll to obtain a degree but complained to him that they didn’t teach in school what Dr. Carroll was doing to cure his patients. Dr. Carroll assured him that he understood and that he would personally teach Harold upon his graduation and licensure.

So his first three years in practice were spent in apprenticeship with Dr. Carroll. During those three years he learned from Dr. Carroll how to heal the sick and restore health. Then he took over the practice of a retiring medical doctor, one who had entered practice around 1900 with a six-month medical degree.

I met Harold in 1981. I was vice president of the OANP [Oregon Association of Naturopathic Physicians] at the time, in charge of continuing education. One of my interests was to find older doctors and have them speak to us in our educational conferences. I had heard of Dr. Dick from Andre Saino, who had just studied hydrotherapy with him. Harold was reluctant to come and talk to us. He said that his colleagues had no interest in what he had to say. But I convinced him that we younger doctors wanted to hear him and he presented at one of conferences.

In my case, I was in the process of application to the University of Oregon School of Medicine. I wanted to be a better Naturopathic physician. I felt that access to “better” training to more hospital training, to IV therapeutics, and who knew what else, I could accomplish this. I was looking for something---how to help really sick people; how to cure the tough cases---cancer, arthritis and so forth. I had not learned this at National College.

What I heard from him enticed me to travel to Spokane and observe in his clinic. I saw cancer, arthritis and other serious illnesses being effectively treated. I began a long preceptorship in his clinic. What I learned from him formed the basis of my work today. He approached his patients differently than I had learned. He did not treat their disease, he worked to improve their health and to allow their own healing potential to eliminate their diseases. He did this with the healing tools of hydrotherapy, dietetics, homeopathy, botanical medicine and other healing agents. But he applied these tools unlike I had experienced at school.

All the work I have done since, including the formulation of the Definition of Naturopathic Medicine which Pamela Snider and I did for the AANP [American Association of Naturopathic Physicians], is based upon what I learned from this old auto mechanic. His gruff manner hid an elegant understanding of the healing process and an insightful capacity to apply the modalities of healing to bring about miracle after miracle with his patients, who came from all over the country, seeking his help in their healing.

His was a great light which held a tradition of healing and carried a line of teaching through a difficult time. His steadfast adherence to the principles and practice of Naturopathic medicine, through persecution and trial, preserved a priceless treasure for this profession and for the larger society as well. His work is carried on by his daughter, Letitia Watrous [Dick-Kronenberg], N.D., who graduated from National College in 1990 and worked with her father until his death. She continues the tradition in their old clinic on West Garland Avenue in Spokane. May he rest in peace knowing that others are carrying his life’s commitments.

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