Some of the best things in life are the special people we encounter during our journey. A man who caught my attention at an early age was Dr. William “Bill” Brydon. I can’t really tell you when I first met him, but from the date of my birth until my student years at Idaho State University he was the only doctor I knew by name.
Dr. Brydon was my pediatrician (for several years he was everyone’s baby doctor in Pocatello), and he was damn good at his job. As a child, medical visits weren’t high on my list of enjoyable things to do, but one always felt safe when he was conducting an examination. Understated competence and comforting kindness are the two phrases that come to mind when I think back to my encounters with him as my physician.
The National Library of Medicine in 2005 noted that, “Medicine bridges the gap between science and society. ... Doctors are one important agent through which that understanding is expressed. But medicine is more than the sum of knowledge about disease. Medicine concerns the experience, feelings and interpretations of human beings in often extraordinary moments of fear, anxiety and doubt. In this extremely vulnerable position, it is professionalism that underpins the trust the public has in doctors.” For me, Dr. Brydon was the epitome of this standard of care.
One of Dr. Brydon’s best characteristics as a doctor was that he was a good listener. You had this sense that he genuinely cared about your condition and would do everything he could to make you better. Most readers have probably experienced a doctor here and there who lacked that quality (poor bedside manner is the term that comes to mind).
Dr. Elliot M. Hirsch observed in the AMJ Journal of Ethics in 2007 that the best doctors genuinely care for their patients. He said, “The empathetic component of medicine is what makes a physician special; without it, we are in essence highly trained computers.” Bill Brydon was no computer, and he was better than special; he was extraordinary.
I trusted Dr. Brydon so completely that when I had a perceived medical problem in college I scheduled an appointment with him. After I tentatively explained that I came to see him because he was the only doctor I knew and trusted, he gently informed me that my condition wasn’t permanent and would improve with time, and that I would always be welcome at his office no matter my age. His sensitivity that day endeared the doctor to me for life.
It took me awhile, but I finally found a physician I trusted who treated adults, and from that time forward my encounters with Bill Brydon came through community activities. It must have been interesting for him to watch his patients grow from babies into adults before he specialized in treating allergies.
Most people would agree that Dr. Brydon was afflicted with a permanent medical condition in that his blood swirled black and orange. He cared deeply for Idaho State University, and he did all that he could over the years to make his alma mater a better institution.
Although Bill was a kind and respectful man with a good sense of humor, my impression was that he had little tolerance for bull-crap. At a certain point, he realized there were problems at the highest levels of administration at Idaho State University, and Dr. Brydon was not shy as he articulately and repeatedly voiced his concerns in public. He was forceful and effective in making the case that change was needed at ISU.
I admired the doctor for standing up for what he believed was important. There are times when people should speak out, but they choose to remain silent because it is an easier path. That was not Dr. Brydon’s way. He and his wife, Doris, made a positive impact on everything they touched, and all who knew him recognize that our community sustained a major loss when he passed.
An extraordinary man died on June 14, 2020. He gave us an incredible 90 years and left his mark in many places that will not soon be forgotten. I have an excellent and caring physician these days, but in my heart no one can ever take the place of Dr. William Brydon.
Jesse Robison is a Pocatello native who has lived in Mexico and other places. He was educated at Idaho State University and University of Idaho. Robison works as a mediator and insurance law consultant, but his passion is public art. He has spearheaded numerous art improvements throughout Pocatello, including the Japanese garden located at Pocatello Regional Airport, and he serves on the Bistline Foundation. Robison currently resides in Pocatello.