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May 19, 1975

The Death of an Old Professor

JAMA. 1975;232(7):728-729. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03250070024015

MY FATHER, William Kerppola, MD, never belonged exclusively to me and my family. Thus, it seems fitting to share with my profession the details of his final illness and death.

My father lived for a long time—13 years after retiring as a professor of internal medicine at the University of Helsinki at 70 years of age. He had very few of the symptoms that often accompany old age. Only his tendency to a pessimistic view of the world grew stronger with advancing age. His memory and judgment, however, remained sharp until the end, and his interest in new developments in the field of medicine and politics was keen up to the final loss of consciousness.

He lived through a severe bout of respiratory infection when he was past the age of 70. At 78, he had a symptomless coronary thrombosis, Finally, after reaching the age of 80, he slowly began