We at The Haven wish to express our deep sadness at the loss of Wayne Dodge, our special friend and colleague. We know he has touched many in the circles of Haven and we feel with you too.
Wayne Dodge was one of The Haven’s much-loved true friends, with 2021 marking 40 years of his association with us. During this time, he filled multiple roles: core faculty, board director, special advisor, mentor, elder, regular contributor to our Shen Blog, author of the Zeitgeist series, and most recently, co-facilitated The Haven Book Club online.
After a tragic accident on March 27th 2021, where he fractured his fifth cervical vertebrae, Wayne was left with no feeling or ability to move below his upper chest. Since that time, he has had a challenging and difficult journey. This journey sadly came to an end early on Sunday, September 5th.
The heartfelt messages below are from Wayne’s husband and family, as well as a few from The Haven community.
If you wish to add expressions in honour of Wayne or messages for his family, you’re welcome to add them to this shared document.
From Larry & Family
I write this through tears, as I inform you that Wayne passed away on Sunday morning, finally at peace and out of the pain that has been with him since his March 27 fall and spinal cord injury. He had developed a urinary tract infection and aspiration pneumonia that, despite antibiotics, led directly to his death. Dr. Alison Lewis, the Kaiser Permanente Washington palliative care physician with a long association with Dr. Dodge, who had unofficially taken him on, and Barbara Pieper, the Home Health nurse, were both exceptional in their attention to him, his needs, and medication adjustments to assure that he was as comfortable in his last days as possible. We did admit him to Hospice care on Friday, assuming that he would need daily access to nursing and a physician over the holiday weekend and into next week. Despite fever and pain medications that sedated him often, he insisted we not cancel his physical therapy appointment that day with Logan Richards, who did exceptional, caring range of motion with him from the beginning of his move to Horizon House. For Logan, he was present, appreciative, and always expressed that–as he did through his entire experience.
Robin stayed overnight with him Thursday and Friday and Marie stayed on Saturday night, sang Wayne songs as he drifted in and out of awareness, and was there when he died. She and I washed his body and dressed him. My sister Paula and brother-in-law, Uri, had flown in from LA Saturday evening and were there with Robin, husband David, Marie’s daughter Malaika, dear friends and major support people Ruth and Bob to mourn, remember, and be with Wayne as he lay there. I’d like to think he was somehow listening in the next room, especially when Senan Baini, the Director of Residential Care at Horizon House, shimmering in a bright red patterned caftan and turban, came in from vacation time to say goodbye to Wayne, expressing how much his presence meant so much to her–“I learned so much from him.” She filled the space with a prayer envisioning that he would now have a new body–no peg tube, no catheter, no morphine, no swallow problems, no cramping, no pain.
People’s Memorial Association, a progressive cooperative we joined many years ago, will be managing his care. Our family has put together the obituary I am sending you and do encourage you to share it with others you know who are not likely to be on my email list. Please encourage them to use the memorial page set up by Robin to leave their thoughts.
Some of you have been asking whether there will be a celebration of his life at some point. We do hope to plan a Zoom event that will allow family and friends from throughout the US, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, and China to join. I will certainly inform you when that will occur.
On behalf of our family, we express our gratitude for the ongoing outpouring of love, caring, and support we have received throughout this arduous time.
From the Haven Community
Here are some of the messages we’ve collected from our community. If you wish to add expressions in honour of Wayne or messages for his family, you’re welcome to add them to this shared document.
“My dear friend and colleague, Wayne Dodge, passed away yesterday from pneumonia as a complication from his fall last April. It has been a hard go for him and his family/friends. I know he gave it his very best effort and so did all those who supported him. He was a most amazing man, with such compassion and caring that helped so very many people, including myself. From the word games, to singing show tunes, the deep existential conversations, to the thrill of tuning forks and glial cells, I came to know the range of this man and was honored to have him as my friend. I will dearly miss him.”– Jane Olynyk
“Wayne was an absolute gift, touching many lives in really loving, meaningful, transformative ways. He was a gift to me at a time in my life when I dearly needed a lifeline and I am transformed because of that first work we did together.”– Kristina Wray Baerg
“The world lost one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever known. Wayne Dodge spent his life helping others, as a physician treating patients with HIV, as a leader for personal growth programs at The Haven, and as a kind, generous human being every day. Wayne was a gift to the world and all who knew him. He helped me and my family so much, not least by being a shining example of what a human being can be.”– Judy Hancock Holland
“Wayne Dodge gave flesh and blood to the statement ‘he was a gentleman and a scholar.’ Wayne was one of the finest human beings I encountered in my 75 years; I counted him as one of my closest and dearest friends. He was a true friend to many; so now I join the host of people grieving. We mourn together. The world has lost one of her finest humans. Already I miss him, way deep down inside.”– Jock McKeen
Today I heard that our remarkable friend and teacher, Wayne Dodge, died after such a difficult long passage of brave and relentless suffering. Wayne was my first “Haven” client way back in 1981 when we were both young. Since then he laid on our massage table many times and both Gary and I have a tactile memory of his being and as long as we have hands we will have the memory of him, visceral and present. He was infused with a rare kind of spirit that will resonnate for ever in many hearts. His presence gifted me and so many others with his qualities of kindness, bright intelligence and patience. His guidance helped me to find an inner resilience and source of courage that helped me to carry on when life seemed too much. I so honour his exemplary ability and willingess to be aware and alert to others’ needs and qualities. His laughter was infectious and still is because I hear it, even now.
In the days to come I imagine that the news of his death will strike a drumbeat and a hum of grief throughout the Haven community and the many other communities Wayne belonged to. I can hear a chorus of praise and grief, a harmony of so many voices that join to honour this lovely man, our friend and teacher. Wayne’s love for singing would listen to our choir with delight, I imagine, and maybe he would be moved and maybe he would join in! We light tonight a candle for Wayne and also for Larry, his beloved, who is the one that Wayne’s absence touches the most.
Now, I feel a quiet kind of sorrowful peace that is soaked in gratitude to have known Wayne. His last few months in his body did test him strongly, and when the inevitable came this morning, we felt his spirit soar.. We celebrate him well and thoroughly as we listen to the echo of his voice and are moved by the wake of his life. I join hands with the circle of grieving friends, patients and family and promise to remember you well, Wayne. Thank you, Wayne, forever.– Elfi Shaw
“My connection with you started in China and deepened after I settled in the States when I embraced, with more courage, my deepest fears to accept who I am. You set aside time to Skype with me, guiding me through the predicaments on my relationship with others. You are as much a friend as a mentor, your humbleness was instrumental in creating the safe and open connection.”– Daniel Wei
Wayne Thomas Dodge, born on August 24, 1950 in Tacoma, Washington, died of complications of a severe spinal cord injury in Seattle, Washington on September 5, 2021.
We could list all his accomplishments and degrees, but Wayne’s life was so much richer than these markers alone. From the time he was a very young child, his family and friends called him ‘Doc’ because he was already caring for others and because of his immense curiosity, always asking ‘why?’
Wayne did become a doctor, studying first at Yale University and University of Rochester School of Medicine, earning degrees in medicine and public health and, later, certifications in geriatrics and HIV care. He joined Group Health Cooperative (now Kaiser Permanente Washington) in 1981 as a family practice physician, where he served as Clinical Director of an 18-practitioner Medical Clinic and led the Group Health response to the AIDS pandemic for the State of Washington. After retirement from active practice in 2014, he continued to work for Kaiser as a part-time contracted physician and volunteered for End of Life Washington as a medical counselor.
Wayne was happiest in the clinic, working hands-on with patients. In his healing role, Wayne believed that listening to his patients was the most important part of his job, always open to lessons they might teach him about how to best treat their illnesses.
Because he was as interested in his patients’ emotional health as their physical health, he began to teach practices of mindful living and self-compassion at The Haven, a personal and professional growth retreat center in Canada, bringing his remarkable, calm, caring, patient, thorough, generous self to this coaching role. Wayne drew deeply on these practices himself, demonstrating courage and stamina as he negotiated all the challenges of his injury. He worked hard for over five months to create a life after this disaster, connecting with his loved ones and caregivers with consistent kindness, respect and grace, always teaching and learning, living in the mystery of what life still asked of him.
Wayne was brilliant and enormously curious, approaching any dialogue with an open and listening heart, consistently showing up and carefully cultivating friendships that endured over years. He had a voracious appetite for learning. He was an avid reader across multiple genres with home library stacks that could become a branch of the Seattle Public Library.
Wayne was a loving partner and husband to Larry Kreisman for over 39 years, and together they crafted an exquisite home filled with beauty, welcome and love. They also found ‘a heart home’ with each other, embracing their connection and love of travel, art, and the beauty of the Arts and Crafts period. Wayne supported Larry’s work in architecture, design, and historic preservation, not just by patting him on the back, but by physically being the back up on walking and driving tours and attending dozens of his lectures to the point where he could present them verbatim. They were each other’s ground, center, home, mirror, and support, joining their different personalities and perspectives to make a whole life that blended their respective worlds of richness, variety and mystery.
Wayne was a gardener, happiest with his hands in the dirt. He had a great passion for Japanese maples and never saw one he didn’t love, creating a backyard oasis of color and leaf. At the Lummi Island Retreat, he had great satisfaction from full days of pruning orchard trees, trimming alder and shrubs, pulling out blackberries, planting bulbs, and weeding.
Music brought him joy throughout his life, starting with singing harmony with his mother, brother and sister while doing dishes as a child and time in the Glee Club and Whiffenpoofs at Yale. He had a huge repertoire of tunes and could burst into song at the drop of a hat to enrich a gathering or conversation. In his work at Haven, he searched for and cataloged songs to use in his classes to enrich the participants’ healing. Every year he hosted family and friends at the Seattle Men’s Chorus concert, a highlight of the holiday season for everyone.
Family was the axis of Wayne’s life. He chose to be a father and nurtured a deep and abiding relationship with his daughter, Robin Grote, sharing a sense of humor and delight in deep and winding conversations. He also cherished his relationship with Robin’s husband, David Grote and his two granddaughters, Cora and Marion.
Wayne was always in the middle of family gatherings. filled with music and great food, wielding the knife to carve the turkey or prime rib, and saving a bone to happily gnaw for himself. He was surrounded by other family members who also loved him deeply – sister Marie Eaton, her wife, Mary Ellen O’Keefe and their children Edward (partner Liz Holguin) and Malaika Eaton (husband Michael Eaton), brother Bruce Dodge and his children Tova Tangeman (husband Josh Tangeman) and Nathan Dodge, and a multitude of nieces and nephews (Macail, Liam, Kaia, Carver, Esme, Olivia, Christine, Scarlett, Autumn), and Larry’s sister and brother-in-law, Paula and Uri Bernstein and niece Dani Bernstein and wife Rachel Bernstein. His beautiful baritone voice, delightful conversation and loving care will be deeply missed by all of them, Wayne’s family is so grateful for the excellent care Wayne received over the past five months from the medical, nursing, and aide workers at Harborview/UW Medicine, Swedish First Hill, and especially Horizon House Assisted Living.
Wayne always brought all of himself to every interaction or task, inspiring all he touched through both work and play. In the words of one of the people who holds him dear for the work he did with Wayne at Haven, “I always felt held by him.” Now he has completed his work, but the ripples of his compassion, caring and wisdom will continue to spread in wide circles through all who remember him with love.
Donations to remember and honor Wayne can be given to End of Life Washington, King-FM, the Seattle Public Library Foundation, Historic Seattle, the Conant Dodge Scholarship at the Western Washington University Foundation or The Haven to help them continue the important work that inspired him.
Or you can plant a Japanese maple!
The family encourages your memories and comments. Please visit and share with others who knew Wayne, learned and grew with him, and were inspired by his curiosity, insight, and goodwill.
Stories of Transformation
These three interviews with Wayne are a little peek into some of Wayne’s contributions to the Haven over the years.
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