Obituary for Bill

May 5, 2023

It is with great sadness that I write to let the HRA family know of the passing of one of its members, Dr. William “Bill” Gitar who died at the age of 69 in his home state of Minnesota (5/3/1950 – 1/9/2020).  Bill was a “two timer”, working at both the Manang and Pheriche clinics;  I had the pleasure of being his partner during his stint in Pheriche in the fall of 1986.  Bill was a superb physician.  An ER doc by training and practice (in Duluth, MN), he was an astute clinician, a great decision maker, and a remarkable improviser in the wilderness.  I was a high strung internal medicine doctor who had just finished medicine residency followed by a year studying altitude illness in Japan.  In contrast, Bill was calm, experienced, and taught me a great deal about how to assess a critically ill patient, make clear headed decisions and do the best with the tools available in the remote setting.  Frankly, I could not have done a good job there without Bill’s patience and tutelage and I am forever grateful for his friendship and mentorship.  Bill was also a great climber, member of the American Alpine Association, and a talented marathon runner (he ran the Grandma’s Marathon 12 times….). He is survived by his wife Judy who was with us in Nepal, and his children Stacey, John, and his slew of grandchildren, all of whom will miss him deeply.  

Left picture shows Ben Levine (left) and Bill Gitar assessing a British ultralight pilot who had crashed near a trail head below the Ama Dablam glacier.  The pilot was part of a kayaking expedition trying to repeat the famous expedition of 1977 to kayak the length of the Dudh Kosi, and this rescue was featured on a National Geographic special about the expedition.  For many years, the broken propeller from the crashed ultralight hung over the door frame in the Pheriche clinic! The right picture shows a typical “day-in-the-life” of a HRA doc with Bill doing some much needed dental work on his wife Judy outside the clinic. 

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