Hundreds gathered at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Sunday, Dec. 8, to celebrate the life of the late E. Grey Dimond, a founder of the university’s School of Medicine. Dimond, a cardiologist, teacher, author, world traveler, artist and medical pioneer, died in November at the age of 94.
The University was host to a public life celebration at UMKC’s Pierson Auditorium on what would have been Dr. Dimond’s 95th birthday. Guests were served cake and champagne to toast his birthday and his life.
The family has indicated that memorial contributions may be made to Diastole Scholars’ Center, 2501 Holmes, Kansas City, Mo. 64108.
Dimond, a national medical education consultant and the former chair of the University of Kansas Department of Medicine, was recruited to start the UMKC School of Medicine, founded in 1971. At his insistence, UMKC refused to follow the traditional medical school format — four years of premedical education plus four years of medical training — and replaced it with an intensive six-year curriculum modeled on his own accelerated education during World War II. Students would work nearly year-round, and they would have contact with patients almost from the start.
More than 3,100 physicians have graduated from the UMKC School of Medicine.
“E. Grey Dimond was an innovator and a leader, as well as a healer,” said UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton. “A man with immense gifts of intellect, imagination and insight, he put those gifts to work to benefit his community, his university, his profession and the world at large. Many of us at UMKC feel his loss deeply and personally; all of us are the beneficiaries of his vision, and the years of intense effort he put into the realization of that vision.”
In 1971, the same year the medical school was founded, Dimond was one of a handful of physicians invited inside Communist China. It was the first of more than two dozen trips to China, a nation, people and culture that grew to become a lifetime passion.
The late international journalist, Edgar Snow, opened Dimond’s mind to China in the early 1960s. Snow, a Kansas City native, had lived in China for 14 years. Dimond’s wife, Mary Clark Dimond, who died in 1983, created a fund in honor of Snow. Now called the Edgar Snow Memorial Foundation, the organization hosts a number of opportunities to bridge relations in U.S. and China, including the Snow Symposium, held biennially in Kansas City and China. The foundation is an affiliate constituent organization of UMKC, which holds the Edgar Snow Archives.
In 1994, Dimond dedicated his modernist house on Hospital Hill to UMKC to be used for university and community events, meetings and receptions. The house at 25th and Holmes is named Diastole, a medical term for the interim between heartbeats, when the heart muscle relaxes. It was the sort of rest-plus-invigoration role Dimond intended the home to perform.
Dimond published 18 books including “Essays From An Unfinished Physician: Lessons From People, Patients and Life” (2000) and “Inside China Today: A Western View” (1984). As UMKC Provost Emeritus of Health Sciences, Dimond won the Chancellor’s Medal in 2011, UMKC’s highest non-academic honor. The medal, given at the discretion of the chancellor, honors those who have shown unwavering support and volunteer service.
Dimond held the medical profession and its education dear until his death. His impact is visible throughout UMKC’s School of Medicine. The E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Program in International Medicine gives students the opportunity to develop an understanding of patient cultures and traditions in foreign countries and to gain international experience. The E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award honors a graduate who has excelled in medicine, academic medicine, research or community service. Take Wing is a bronze sculpture cast from a carving Dimond created in 1952 from a piece of driftwood that stands in front of the School of Medicine.