Doctor William (Bill) Dysinger
Loma Linda University School of Public Health News
March 23, 2000
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Receiving the School Distinguished Service Award for 1999-2000 was P. William Dysinger, MD, MPH.
P. William Dysinger, MD, MPH (right), and his wife, Yvonne, listen as Dr. Hart reads the plaque inscription naming Dr. Dysinger as recipient of the 1999-2000 Distinguished Service Award for the School of Public Health.
His father, Paul Claire Dysinger, was a businessman and farmer, alternating between doing very well financially--primarily in the bakery business--and donating money and time to Seventh-day Adventist self-supporting ventures. His mother, Mary, was a homemaker and nurse. He has one sister, Ruth, four years younger.
During his early years he was called Billy, and most of his stories about this time of his life revolve around driving tractors and farm life in the hills of Tennessee.
In 1947, Dr. Dysinger began college at Southern Missionary College (SMC, now known as Southern Adventist University) in Collegedale, Tennessee. During these years, he went by his first name, Paul.
His college years were busy with his premedical studies, student government activities, and a healthy social life. He graduated in 1951 as one of the first two SMC graduates accepted to the School of Medicine at Loma Linda.
Last year, he was granted the first Distinguished Service Award given by Southern Adventist University to one of its alumni.
Dr. Dysinger's matriculation at Loma Linda University School of Medicine was a major step forward and outward in his life. He did well in his coursework, was again active in student government, and helped to lead a camping group whose members spent a high percentage of weekends in the desert, mountains, or at the beach.
Upon graduating from Loma Linda in 1955, Dr. Dysinger moved across the country for a year of rotating internship at Washington Adventist Hospital in Washington, D.C.
It was during this year that he met Yvonne Mae Minchin. There was an immediate attraction that neither of them was bold enough to initially admit. After completing his internship year, he spent two years in the Public Health Service, first on the Blackfoot Indian Reservation in Montana, and then with the Navajo Indians in Arizona.
These years are full of stories about harrowing ambulance rides, emergency medical procedures, and other challenges faced by a young physician providing general medical care to a rural medically underserved population. Anecdotes also abound regarding his hobbies of airplane flying and finding fossils in remote desert locations.
During his Indian Health Service years, Dr. Dysinger continued a long-distance relationship with Ms. Minchin. She knew it was getting serious when he began to talk about his plans for international travel using the pronoun "we."
They were married on May 14, 1958, in Washington, D.C. Shortly after their wedding, they flew to Cambodia where Dr. Dysinger worked as the U.S. Embassy physician for two adventurous years. The Dysingers wasted no time starting a family--their first son, Edwin, was born 10 months after their wedding. It was during this time that Dr. Dysinger also developed his desire to pursue a career in public health and preventive medicine, as well as his lifelong interest in international health.
Upon completing his time with the U.S. State Department, Dr. Dysinger and his young family returned to Loma Linda where he spent close to a year doing research and helping to develop the School of Tropical Health and Hygiene, the precursor to the current School of Public Health.
Next, the family moved across country to Boston, where Dr. Dysinger completed his master's degree in public health at Harvard University. During this time his second son, Wayne, was born.
He next moved his family to a rural, isolated African mission hospital in Heri, Tanzania, where he spent two years developing a unique program to train pastors in health education and public health. During this time his third son, John, was born.
In 1964, the Dysinger family returned to the School of Public Health at Loma Linda where, except for regular forays back into the international health arena, Dr. Dysinger stayed for the next 23 years.
During his early years, he worked closely with Mervyn G. Hardinge, MD, PhD, DrPH, serving in a variety of capacities to help develop the School of Public Health as a viable and progressive entity. His primary title was associate dean for academic affairs, where his skills and efforts in program visioning and development were put to good use.
During his later years, Dr. Dysinger was one of the primary movers in establishing the department of international health, as well as the preventive medicine residency program. He always loved teaching, and was known for his innovative and organized approaches to education.
Dr. Dysinger's interest in international health and medical missionary work has always been a major force in his life. He spent three-month stints as a World Health Organization (WHO) fellow traveling through Africa, and as a relief worker during the Biafrian War in Nigeria.
He spent a year in Singapore (1972ø73) helping to develop a health education program for Southeast Asia Union College, and another year in Pakistan (1980ø 81) developing a rural health training program for Pakistan Union College.
He served two additional years in Tanzania (1978ø80), directing a countrywide "training the trainers" program in maternal and child health. This project developed out of a grant Dr. Dysinger wrote, which helped move the international health programs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) to new levels of competence and service.
In 1988, the Dysingers moved back to Washington, D.C., where he served for five years as the international medical director for ADRA. During these years, he spent much of his time traveling around the world, and creating a remarkable record of successful grant applications for child survival projects in various corners of the earth.
In his travels, he has circled the globe too many times to count, visited more than 200 different countries, and developed an extensive collection of slides, anecdotes, and incidents that confirm his dedication to helping those in need.
In 1992, Dr. Dysinger and his wife retired and returned to the hills of Tennessee. They now own a beautiful 180-acre farm where he can drive his tractor anytime he wants.
But even in his retirement, he manages to stay busy, continuing to travel and serve his church and others. He now serves as the director of Development Services International (DSI), a nonprofit health evangelism organization. He has written a book and developed multimedia programs incorporating health and the "three angels messages," presented health evangelism seminars around the world using a syllabus he helped develop with the Adventist International Medical Society (AIMS), and continues to consult with Loma Linda University, ADRA, and Adventist Frontier Missions (AFM). He also recently spent a year in Yemen where he worked as ADRA country director.
Throughout his life, Dr. Dysinger has shown unwavering dedication to the Seventh-day Adventist Church and to LLU. His dedication has inspired generations of students as well as his family.
He has consistently chosen a commitment to family over all else in his life, and continues to support them in their family and career paths. P. William Dysinger is a fabulous father, a heroic husband, a dedicated physician, a committed Adventist Christian, a wonderful worker, an innovative visionary, and the kind of person who contributes and cares in every facet of life.
School of Public Health banquet celebrates School's 40th anniversary
By Heather ReifsnyderIn conjunction with its annual Healthy People conference, the School of Public Health hosted a 40th anniversary banquet March 7 in celebration of the School’s four decades.
About 185 people attended the banquet, including students, faculty, Healthy People attendees, some alumni, and some of the School’s former deans.
Retired faculty member P. William Dysinger, MD, MPH, was in attendance at the event. He is an emeritus associate dean of the School. Dr. Dysinger’s work with the School of Public Health goes back to the days when it was known as the School of Tropical and Preventive Medicine.
“It’s nice to see something that you helped start continue on,” Dr. Dysinger says.
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