Daily Archives: February 8, 2012

“A Pioneer of Healthcare in Oman” (Oman Observer)

There is a beautiful article on the life of Dr. Donald Bosch in this morning’s Oman Observer.  I will share it here in its entirety as it’s a beautifully written piece on an extraordinary man who saved and touched the lives of many here in Oman.

Dr Donald Taeke Bosch, a specialist surgeon who worked in Oman for most of his medical career and saved many lives at a time when medical services were limited in the country passed away at home in Haramel late on Monday night. He was a friend to all who met him and spent his life serving others, and he was known for his warm smile, quick sense of humour, and his empathy for those in need.
He was the first American to be awarded the Order of Oman for his service to the country by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos in 1972. Dr Bosch is also widely known for authoring a number of books on seashells of Oman and the Gulf region. But his life history also includes experience as a decorated World War II soldier, an accomplished public speaker and competitive tennis player.

Don, as he was known by his friends, arrived with his wife Eloise and children in Oman in January, 1955, having spent the previous three years in Iraq learning Arabic and working in the local mission hospital. Don worked for many years as a surgeon in the American Mission Hospital in Muttrah (later called Al Rahma Hospital), while his wife Eloise was a teacher in the American Mission School in Muscat.

Dr Bosch worked alongside the legendary Dr Wells Thoms, who had been in Oman for many years. When Dr Thoms retired in 1970, Don followed him as Chief Medical Officer of the hospital and he later became the Medical Officer in Charge of Khoula Hospital.

Upon retiring from his position at Khoula Hospital in 1983, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos awarded the Bosches with Omani nationality and provided a home for them to live in Haramel, in recognition for their many years of service to the people of Oman. This was a very happy time for Don and Eloise as they would spend half of the year in the United States with family and friends there, and the other half in their much loved Oman. Don also served as an adviser to the Minister of Health during his retirement years. 1328616930049309600

Donald was born in Amoy, China, on December 9, 1917, the second of five children, and lived there until he was 12 years old. His father, Dr Taeke Bosch, was a doctor in charge of a Christian mission hospital, and his mother, Margaret Brown Bosch was a teacher who home-schooled her five children. When Donald was still a child he established his life goal to become a doctor like his father. At a very early age he and his siblings were instilled with the ideal of spending their lives in service to others. Moving to the United States at age of twelve, he moved quickly through secondary school and attended the State University of Iowa, where he was awarded an MD degree in 1941 at age 23.

Don was married on April 11, 1942 to Eloise Boynton, daughter of Rev Arthur Boynton and Elizabeth Bell Boynton, in New York City, after a courtship of several years while they were both in University. They were married for about 70 years. Don’s medical internship and surgical specialisation was interrupted by the Second World War. In 1942 Don joined the US Army Medical Corps, where he was assigned to the 78th Infantry Division.

In 1946 he returned to the US and left the Army to continue his specialisation in surgery. In 1950 he was honoured by being named the “Outstanding Young Man of the Year” by the Newark, N J Jaycees. On completing his six years of medical specialisation in surgery, Don accepted an assignment as a surgeon in the Arabian Gulf under the World Missions programme of the Reformed Church and arrived in Amarah, Iraq in September 1951 with Eloise and their three small children, David, Paul and Bonnie.

Don became a collector of seashells as a result of the family’s weekend visits to the local Omani beaches, where he noticed the many seashells on the shore. He wrote to the Museum of Natural History in New York City, asking them if they would be interested in specimens collected from Oman. The Museum responded with enthusiasm, advising that they would be happy to identify any specimens that he sent, as their scientists had very little knowledge of the seashells of Oman.

In 1982 Don and Eloise co-authored their first book on Oman’s seashells, Seashells of Oman. This effort was followed by Seashells of Southern Arabia in 1989. In 1995 Don organised and co-authored the comprehensive volume that described over 1,000 different local species, Seashells of Eastern Arabia. 1328607175047944900 

Don and Eloise, with the help of their children and even grandchildren, discovered over 20 species of seashells in Oman’s waters that were new to science, many of which were named after family members. One of the most beautiful, well-known species is named Punctada eloisae after Don’s wife.

In 2000, Don and Eloise, in response to interest about their lives, co-authored a book about their early days in Oman, The Doctor and The Teacher, Oman 1955-1970. At the request of the then Minister of Health, Don researched and wrote, The American Mission Hospitals in Oman, 1893-1974, which the ministry published in 2001, covering the 81 years that the American Mission hospitals served Oman. Don is survived by his beloved wife Eloise Bosch, and three children.”

To the staff and unnamed writer of this article from the Oman Observer, thank you for this beautiful piece!

Update: I was recently tweeted the link to an Arabic translation of this article by Mr. Jalal Al-Shukaili if you read Arabic and are more comfortable reading in that language.  Here it is as published in the Arabic paper, Shabiba