2014 DAVA recipient

2014 Distinguished Alumni Veteran Richard Layton, ’54, ’58, U.S. Navy

by Julie Garner

Richard Layton, M.D. ’54, ’58, has always served others, both in his military service and his medical practice. Layton grew up in the University District, graduated from Roosevelt High School and volunteered for the Navy at age 18.

In 1946, he was a Second Class Petty Officer headed to Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands on a top-secret mission: to chart the effects of atomic bomb blasts on naval ships at sea. Layton was only 12 miles from two nuclear blasts. Days later he boarded the ships to assess the damage. Exposed to great amounts of radiation, he is a living miracle at the age of 87.

When he left the Navy, he had a letter from his commodore assuring him that he could attend the UW in the fall. “I hung on to that letter for dear life,” Layton recalls. In 1946 he entered the university as the letter had promised. Faculty from the UW mentored and encouraged him to apply to medical school. “I never dreamt of being a doctor; I didn’t have any money,” he says.

Before he received his bachelor’s degree in 1958, he earned his medical degree in 1954 in the fifth class of the new UW Medical School. He went on to practice rural medicine in Grandview, Wash. for almost 20 years. Layton was also a pioneer physician in the WWAMI and Physician Assistant programs—each dedicated to providing communities with better access to medical care.

For twenty years at Providence Hospital in Seattle—later Swedish, he directed a family practice residency that focused on serving the inner-city population. Throughout his medical career untold numbers of families have benefited from his compassionate care.

Established in 2012, the Distinguished Alumni Veteran Award (DAVA) is given to a living University of Washington alumnus veteran who made a positive impact on the local, national or international community, the University of Washington or the veterans’ community. Our previous award recipients distinguished themselves both in community service and in their professional lives.

For more information about DAVA and the previous recipients, visit uwalum.com/dava.