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Memorials: Multnomah Friends Meeting

James Metcalfe

Date of birth

Aug. 16, 1922

Date of death

Jan. 8, 2016


Multnomah Friends Meeting

Memorial minute

Jim, a member of Multnomah Monthly Meeting in Portland, Oregon, was a distinguished and honored teacher, mentor, doctor, researcher, environmentalist, social and peace activist and inspiration to all who knew him.

Jim is remembered for his patience, interest and devotion to discovery. His was a tirelessly inquisitive intellect. Answers (and next questions) inspired him. An eternal optimist, he believed the best in people needed only to be found.

He was born in New Bedford, Mass., the son of James and Georgia Metcalfe. He graduated from Brown University and received his MD degree from Harvard. After completing his residency in Internal Medicine at what is now the Brigham and Woman’s Hospital in Boston, he was recruited to Harvard Medical School as an instructor. He rose quickly to an Assistant Professor of Medicine and concurrently held positions as Associate in Medicine at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and Chief of Medicine at the Woman’s Lying-in Hospital.

He served in the US Navy Medical Corps from 1942 to 1949.In 1961 Jim was recruited to Oregon as the first (and only) Professor of Cardiovascular Research, a position funded by the Oregon Heart Association. He establish the Heart Research Laboratory at OHSU (then, the University of Oregon Medical School) where he encouraged and conducted a wide variety of projects. His own interest was on pregnancy’s effect on the expectant mother and fetus.  He made seminal contributions from studying these effects in animals, ranging from spiny anteaters to pygmy goats to elephants.

After retiring from OHSU in 1986, he accepted the position of Chief of Staff in the Extended Care Division at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Vancouver, Wash. He retired in 1993.

He received many awards including the American Heart Association Distinguished Scientist Award (1972), Alexander von Humboldt Award (1976), and the American Heart Association Outstanding Service Award (1982). In 2010 the Cardiovascular Division at OHSU established a named lectureship in his honor. In 2014 the lectureship was converted to an endowed Chair. In 2011 Jim became Professor Emeritus of Medicine at OHSU

In retirement his abundant energies were devoted to the cause of global warming, peace and social justice. He was clerk of Multnomah Monthly Meeting’s Peace and Social Concerns committee and founder of the meeting’s “Global Coolers” group. Each Sunday, he and his wife, Audrey, prepared and served hot dogs for the homeless in downtown Portland. Jim regularly joined anti-war demonstrations, helping carry the Meeting’s large banner, which he had made.

Jim had a lifelong love of horticulture. He focused on the hybridizing of hellebores. He and Audrey started Honeyhill Farms Nursery and introduced the named hybrid Honeyhill Joy. Bee-keeping was yet another passion. At Christmas the couple gave friends candles made of bees wax from their urban farm’s hives.

Predeceased by his first wife, Cynthia, and their oldest son, Philip. He is survived by his wife, Audrey; his children and their spouses, Amy Ross Metcalfe (widow of Philip), James Metcalfe and wife Lisa, Duncan Metcalfe and wife Frances, Susan Metcalfe Carrillo and husband Rick, five grandchildren, and one great-grandchild and Audrey’s children, Linnaea Basden, Matthew Booth and Chytra Brown and husband Craig and their family.