Dr. Henry Pickering Bowditch '61, George Higginson Professor of Physiology, Emeritus, died early yesterday morning at his home, Sunnyside, Pond street, Jamaica Plain. He had been in very poor health for the past five years. Funeral services will be held in Appleton Chapel tomorrow at 12 o'clock.
Henry Pickering Bowditch was born in Boston April 4, 1840. After he was graduated from the College in 1861, he took up the study of chemistry in the Lawrence Scientific School. In November of the same year he left the school to become second lieutenant in the First Massachusetts Cavalry. A year later he was honorably discharged with the rank of captain and immediately re-entered the service as major of the Fifth Massachusetts Cavalry, with which he entered Richmond on April 3, 1865. Two months later he resigned and returned to the Scientific School. That fall he entered the Medical School, from which he took his degree in 1868.
Soon after his graduation, Dr. Bowditch took up medical research work in Paris under the famous Claude Bernard, and later under Ludwig in Leipsic. On his return to Boston in 1871 he was appointed assistant professor of physiology. Five years later he received the George Higginson chair, which he held until his retirement in 1906, when he was made professor emeritus. In 1883, at the time of the dedication of the buildings on Boylston street, he was made Dean of the Medical School. As Dean he made the school one of the foremost in the country. He was the man who conceived the plan of the present buildings, and it was mainly through his personal efforts that the necessary funds were raised. Because of his poor health he resigned as Dean of the Medical School in 1893.
Dr. Bowditch was a member of the Boston School Committee from 1877 to 1881, and served as a trustee of the Boston Public Library from 1895 to 1902. As a result of his distinguished attainments in the medical field he received honorary degrees from the Universities of Edinburgh, Cambridge, Toronto, and Leipzig.
Since 1906 Dr. Bowditch has lived quietly at his Jamaica Plain home.
Appreciation by Dr. James J. Putnam.
The death of Dr. H.P. Bowditch, like that of Judge Lowell only one week earlier, makes the impression upon those who had known him as of the fall of a great forest tree which all had learned to honor and admire. Scientist or jurist, it is, after all, the moral qualities that count the most, especially when one looks back over the perspective of a long life. If Dr. Bowditch had not had the staunch character that made him so good a cavalry officer in the Civil War, and the patriotism that led him to take up arms in that long contest; if he had not had the loyalty, generosity and powers of sympathy and of affection that made him so good a husband and father, so true a friend, so indispensable an ally, his colleagues might indeed be thinking with appreciation of the scientific work he did in physiology, but the warm glow would be absent that now fills all our hearts. As it is, we are reminded that a firm, strong, serious man, a kindly and sympathetic advocate of all good causes, has long been in our midst, and that if his voice is no longer to be heard, the echo of its tones is still in our possession and will count as a real influence in our lives.
In every capacity in which he spent his strength and thought; as student of medicine, as companion-in-arms, as leader and co-worker in the physiological laboratory, as dean and foremost counsellor at the long table of the Medical Faculty; whether ally or critic, his words were always listened to with attention and respect and while he won everywhere new friends he never lost an old one.
Dr. Bowditch was a true son of Harvard and an exponent of the best traditions of New England. Grandson of the great navigator and mathematician, Nathaniel Bowditch, son of the eminent merchant and trusted administrator, Ingersoll Bowditch, nephew of the noble physician, Henry I. Bowditch, and near relative of the distinguished Pickerings of Salem, he was a Boston boy; a Harvard Bachelor of Arts of '61; a soldier throughout the war, wounded only to re-enlist; and thereafter continuously a worker in the service of his University, as student and honored teacher of physiology, until serious illness forced him from the ranks.
Everywhere that he went he won laurels. It was to his energy and daring, with those of his friend Dr. J. Collins Warren, that we largely owe the splendid buildings of the Medical College. But it is not as professor and soldier alone that he has deserved well of the University, his community and his country. On the Boston School Committee, as trustee of the Boston Public Library, as student of the public health, he showed the same strong qualities for which his colleagues loved him as a comrade and a friend.