Dr. Jack Welsh's love of medicine inspired Dr. Ralph Guild to specialize in gastroenterology.
And Guild probably isn't the only student who was led to the field by way of Welsh's enthusiasm.
“There was no stupid question,” Guild said. “He encouraged people to ask questions, and he was so passionate about what he was doing that he inspired others.”
Welsh, 83, died last week after a long illness. He was preceded in death by his wife, Bobbie, and daughter, Deborah Frazier. He is survived by two sons, Jack Randall, and James and wife Tina, of Oklahoma City, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
After growing up in Nebraska, Welsh came to Oklahoma for an internship and residency upon completing his bachelor's and medical degree in Nebraska. He completed his internal medicine and gastroenterology education at the University of Oklahoma in the 1950s and joined the faculty at OU in 1959.
Guild, a professor of medicine at OU Health Sciences Center, said Welsh was a leader in his field. Lactose intolerance was one of his areas of interest. In the 1960s, he published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine that helped pave the way for understanding lactose intolerance in the American Indian community, said Guild, who knew Welsh for more than 40 years.
In the early 1970s, the American Medical Association selected doctors to go to Vietnam to help train the South Vietnamese in their medical programs. Welsh was one of the doctors selected.
“Jack made several trips to Vietnam to teach internal medicine and specifically gastroenterology to the residents and to the faculty at University of Saigon,” Guild said. “Subsequently, we actually had several fellows who came from Vietnam to Oklahoma to continue training in gastroenterology.”
In 1971, Welsh was named the David Ross Boyd Professor of Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. He taught hundreds of aspiring doctors, instilling in them a love of learning, Guild said.
He retired in 1990 after several years of researching the gastrointestinal system, including his studies on malabsorption, inflammatory bowel disease and endoscopic evaluation of gastrointestinal bleeding associated with peptic ulcer disease.
“He was unique in his approach to medicine,” Guild said. “He was the guy that you knew was going to be in his office at 7 o'clock at night, and if you had a question, you just went to his office, and he was there, and he was happy to take time (to) stop and talk to you.”