UW School of Pharmacy E-news
February 2010  |  Return to issue home

In Memoriam

Grace LaBurt Thomke, ’34, passed away this past August at The Hearthstone retirement center in Seattle. She was born at home in Everett, Wash., and graduated from Everett High School. As an only child during the Depression, Grace learned resilience and self-reliance from her parents.

Upon her graduation from the University of Washington, Grace worked at Tozer’s Prescription Pharmacy in Everett. She later went to Niemeyer’s Pharmacy and to the General Hospital of Everett, where she stayed for twenty years. While at the General Hospital, she kept her hand in community practice, traveling one day a week to Hilton Pharmacy in Marysville.

She moved into The Hearthstone in 1988, continuing to work part-time at the Everett General Hospital.  

At around the same time that Grace moved to Hearthstone, Pharmacy Professor Joy Plein was starting the UW residency program there. It didn’t take long for Plein to build what would become an enduring relationship with Grace.

While Grace did not officially become involved as a preceptor at Hearthstone (because of potential conflicts of interest as a resident), she became a hostess for countless UW students' site visits to Hearthstone. Pharmacy students and other visitors who toured the facility typically stopped in Grace's apartment to hear her talk about her career and about life as a resident of a continuing-care retirement community.

In recent years, she took on a task of persuading the dining room staff to give her cookies to bring to students and faculty during their breaks from rounds. Countless students who have done the UW geriatric rotation at The Hearthstone since 1989 have a story about what Grace taught them.

She was officially appointed an affiliate instructor at the School of Pharmacy in the early 2000s. By that time, she had contributed to the UW Hearthstone Program for more than a decade.

As a pharmacist, she provided what every patient wants from a caregiver. She was also a member of the Washington State Pharmacy Association and the American Pharmacists Association.

Grace was an obsessive photographer and kept her Brownie box camera working and cranking out the chronicles of dozens of families’ lives for her nine decades. She was actively involved in the Philanthropic Educational Organization International, the American Guild of Organists and the Everett Baptist Church. And she was a loyal Husky alumna.

She had what seemed like an entire phonebook of lifelong friends. She made each person feel special and important to her. Grace created a life worth living and sharing with all.

Special thanks to Grace’s longtime friend and neighbor Michelle Valentine and Professor of Pharmacy Joy Plein for contributing this information.

Alumnus and Professor/Chair Emeritus William “Bill” Trager, Ph.D., ’65, passed away this past November. He was 72 years old.

Bill received his Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry—focusing on conformational analysis and nuclear magnetic resonance—from the University of Washington in 1965 under the supervision of the recently deceased Professor Alain Huitric. Bill went on to do his postdoctoral studies at the Chelsea School of Science and Technology in London, studying alkaloid structures with Sir Arnold Beckett.

In 1967, he joined the faculty of the University of California-San Francisco School of Pharmacy as an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry. While at UCSF, he acted as director of the high-resolution mass spectrometry center. That is where his interest in drug metabolism—which would be the focus of his life’s research—began.

In 1972, Bill was recruited back to the UW School of Pharmacy to be a professor of medicinal chemistry. He was the chair of the department from 1980 to 1983. He also was an adjunct professor in the UW Department of Chemistry.

Bill was an outstanding, encouraging mentor to 22 graduate students and 12 postdoctoral fellows. During his career, he published more than 200 research papers and was a co-author of two books. He was internationally renowned for his work on warfarin metabolism and mechanisms of warfarin drug interactions. He also was the principal investigator for nearly 20 years of a National Institutes of Health Program Project Grant for investigating drug interactions.

Bill received the Alumnus of the Year Award from the UW School of Pharmacy in 2001, and he remained with the University of Washington until his retirement in 2004. As an alumnus and emeritus faculty member, Bill stayed active with the School of Pharmacy, its faculty and staff.

The School of Pharmacy and the wider research community have lost a brilliant mind and a kind soul. He will be sorely missed. He is survived by his loving wife of 25 years, Caryl, and seven children from his blended family.

This is an excerpt of Dean Emeritus Sid Nelson’s tribute to Bill Trager. Read Nelson’s full tribute to his former mentor and friend.

February 2010  |  Return to issue home

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