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Honoring Richard W. Vilter, M.D. As A Great Living Cincinnatian

Sen. Rob Portman

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Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor Richard W. Vilter, M.D., a leader in our medical community, who will be formally honored as a Great Living Cincinnatian on February 24, 2005 by the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce. Recipients of this prestigious annual award are chosen on the basis of professional achievement, leadership, vision, and community service. Past honorees include Neil Armstrong, Dr. Albert Sabin, and Charles Scripps.

A native Cincinnatian, Dr. Vilter has said that not only did he want to follow in the footsteps of his father, Dr. William F. Vilter, he never considered doing anything else. After graduating from Hughes High School in 1929, he earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard. Dr. Vilter promised to join his father in practice when he returned to Cincinnati, but, tragically, his father died of leukemia before he could do so. Dr. Vilter has said this is what led him to pursue his distinguished career in blood diseases.

After graduating from medical school in 1937, Dr. Vilter earned an internship at Cincinnati General Hospital specializing in internal medicine. In 1940, he was named senior resident, and later became chief medical resident. He went on to hold many leadership positions at Cincinnati General, including founding director of the Division of Hematology and Assistant Director of the Department of Internal Medicine. In 1956, he became the Gordon and Helen Hughes Taylor Professor of Medicine and director of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Cincinnati, positions he held until 1978. He still serves as the Gordon and Helen Hughes Taylor Professor Emeritus of Medicine, continuing his teaching and consulting work. Dr. Vilter has also spread his practice of medicine internationally, acting as a consultant for the United Nations' World Health Organization, traveling for the Pan American Sanitary Bureau, and serving as chair of the National Advisory Committee's Malnutrition Research Center in Thailand.

Dr. Vilter has held leadership positions with many organizations, including the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine's Medical Heritage Library Board; the American College of Physicians/American Society of Internal Medicine; American Society of Clinical Nutrition, where he was the first president; the American Clinical and Climitalogical Association; and the Cincinnati Society of Internal Medicine. He received the American College of Physicians Ohio Chapter's Laureate Award in 2002; the American Medical Association's Joseph Goldberger Award for outstanding contributions in the field of nutrition; the National March of Dimes Foundation's Dan Tehan Humanitarian Award; the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine's Daniel Drake Award for major and lasting contributions to the College; and the University of Cincinnati Excellence Award.

In August, 2003, Dr. Vilter lost his beloved wife of 70 years, Sue. He lost his son, Richard Jr., in 1990.

All of us in Cincinnati congratulate Dr. Vilter on being named a Great Living Cincinnatian.