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May 2000

Budd Appleton, MD (1929-1999)

Arch Ophthalmol. 2000;118(5):733. doi:10.1001/archopht.118.5.733

Budd Appleton, MD (colonel, US Army Medical Corps, retired), died unexpectedly at age 70 years on Saturday, August 28, 1999, in Duluth, Minn. He is survived by his wife, Linda Hirte, 3 children by a previous marriage, and 5 grandchildren.

Budd Appleton, MD

Budd Appleton, MD

Budd matriculated at Columbia University in New York in 1950 and at New York Medical College in 1954. He served in Korea and returned for his residency in ophthalmology at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC, finishing in 1959. He served as the chief of the Ophthalmology Service at Fort Hood, Tex, from 1960 to 1962 and was the division surgeon, 7th Infantry Division, Korea, from 1963 to 1964. He returned to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and served on staff before becoming the chief of service in 1967.

His position as chief of service included serving as the ophthalmologic consultant to the Army Surgeon General. Besides providing ophthalmologic opinions for the Surgeon General, he made recommendations for duty assignments for the other ophthalmologists on active duty in the US Army, many of whom were deferred draftees. Accordingly, his staff, although small in number, included over the years Froncie Gutman, MD, Lee Jampol, MD, and Ralph Rosenthal, MD, to name a few who subsequently became departmental chairs. During this period, he was ophthalmologist to numerous important figures, including President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Senator Henry Jackson, and King Hussein of Jordan. His treatment of and surgery for these high-profile patients, while stressful, was successful. He was proud of the residency program offered by his service and continued the regular outside consultant teaching conferences that allowed Mel Alper, MD, Mansour Armaly, MD, Mike Lemp, MD, John Harry King, MD, Ed Maumenee, MD, Frank Walsh, MD, Tom Walsh, MD, Bob Welch, MD, and Lorenz Zimmerman, MD, to assist in the education of residents and staff.

When the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md, was created, Budd became the first professor and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology. He was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society in 1971.

Budd saw the value in qualified assistants for ophthalmologists. He, along with Bernie Blais, MD, Hugh Monahan, MD, and Peter Y. Evans, MD, was among the primary movers in the early days of the Joint Commission of Allied Health Care in Ophthalmology. He served several terms as president of the Joint Commission and remained involved in this aspect of ophthalmology throughout his career.

In the 1970s, Budd enlisted the aid of Stu Hirsch, MD, who was transferring into the residency program. Microwave devices were new in the civilian community, appearing as microwave ovens. Some investigators believed that the emission standards for these new machines were set at unsafe levels and that cataracts were an almost certain sequelae in the users. Budd, Stu, and others showed, by means of a well-designed, masked, case-controlled study, that the standards were appropriate and that workers in proximity to microwave ovens did not develop cataract at rates higher than those working elsewhere. Their work remains unrefuted today. Other fields of endeavor included the ocular response to certain metallic foreign bodies and malingering. He wrote numerous journal articles.

Budd was a strong supporter of the concept of physicians treating eye disease and was known to be outspoken. Political pressure on higher authorities in the military was brought to bear, and Budd was advised to keep quiet. Rather that do that, he retired from active duty and settled in St Paul, Minn, where he could speak freely as a private citizen. He received the Legion of Merit at his retirement from the army in 1978.

In Minnesota, he served as a clinical professor of ophthalmology at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and was on staff at United and Regions Hospitals, St Paul. He served as medical consultant for the Minnesota Services for the Blind and Visually Handicapped and worked for the St Paul Health Care for the Homeless Project as ophthalmologist and director of Eye Care for the Homeless Clinic (Dorothy Day Center in St Paul). Budd was past president of the Minnesota Academy of Ophthalmology.

Budd enjoyed the outdoors and was an avid fisherman. He caught trout in the Appalachian mountains, stripers in the Chesapeake Bay, and pike in Minnesota and Canadian lakes. He was a collector of antique glass and art glass, and his home in St Paul was a beautiful display case for these collections. He wrote 2 books on the subject.

Budd was a teacher, a mentor, and a friend. When his residents stumbled, he picked them up, dusted them off, and gave them another chance. When ophthalmology was not the correct choice, he helped them elsewhere. When traveling with Stu Hirsch, Budd once noted that Stu seemed to be meeting a friend at every city across the country. I am sure that Budd has now met all his oldest friends and is making new ones without limit.

Budd hoped to establish a technician scholarship within the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology. Memorials may be sent to JCAHPO, Attn: Budd Appleton Scholarship Fund, Education and Research Fund, 2025 Woodlawn Dr, St Paul, MN 55125-2995.