Each year, the University of Washington presents one graduate with the Distinguished Alumni Veteran Award, commending graduates who have made a positive impact through community service and civic engagement. This year’s recipient has dedicated his life to service — first through the military and later as a physician for the underserved and an educator in the medical field.
Richard Layton, M.D., ’54, ’58, was drafted into the U.S. Navy at age 18. With the nation still in the clutches of World War II, Dr. Layton soon found himself at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, where atomic bombs were tested. After bombs were detonated, he was sent to assess the bombed-out ships — a job that exposed him to critically dangerous levels of radiation.
Returning to the United States in 1946, Dr. Layton started a new chapter at the University of Washington as a medical student, where he graduated at the top of his class. As a physician and an educator, Dr. Layton has impacted countless lives during the course of his career. He was one of the pioneering physicians in the University of Washington School of Medicine’s WWAMI program, which trains UW physicians in five states with a focus on rural and underserved areas.
Dr. Layton practiced for 19 years in Grandview, Washington, before becoming director of the family medicine residency program at Providence Hospital for the UW, a position he filled for 20 years. Over the course of his career — during which he worked tirelessly on behalf of his patients and for regional and national medical organizations — Dr. Layton earned many prestigious honors. In 1986, he was Washington state’s family physician of the year.
Upon his retirement, he earned emeritus faculty status with the UW School of Medicine for his many years as a clinical professor. More recently, Dr. Layton received the alumni service award from the UW School of Medicine. And last year, Gov. Jay Inslee bestowed the Washington State Governor’s Recognition Award on Dr. Layton for his “selflessness and lifelong commitment to service.” In the spirit of continuing that service, the University’s physician assistant program selects a graduate each year to receive the Richard H. Layton Award for Commitment to Underserved Populations.
Congratulations to Dr. Layton, and thank you to all UW servicemen and servicewomen for your commitment to our country and our community.