Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Allan Unger, MD; R.I.P.


March 30, 2012

Dear Jane, Harriett, Richard and Robert,

Eleanor Burke called me at 8:15 AM this morning to tell me of Allan’s death. I was saddened but not as pained as you must be. My heartfelt sympathies go out to you and all your families.

My family and I moved to Diamond Heights in 1965 to become Vicar of St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church on Goldmine Dr. We lived at 56 Amber Drive not far from you all.

Allan and I first clashed on the race issue and I was pleased that he softened and became a real supporter of black rights. I am sure you kids also made sure of that.

Then Richard, I believe, after your Bar Mitzvah, accepted my invitation to read the Hebrew Bible lesson in Hebrew and English at St. Aidan’s. Allan and Jane were there and very proud parents.

Later I chose Allan to be my doctor. We had many pleasant visits. I learned, “When in doubt, take it out” from Allan as he recommended surgery on a benign lump in my neck.

One time I had a wen on my penis. Allan took some thread, tied it around the wen assuring me the wen would soon fall off. He fumbled with the thread then smiled and said, “See why I didn’t go into surgery.”

Another time I asked him if I should stop eating butter. He drawled, “Well Robert, if you stop eating butter you’ll probably live about twenty minutes longer.”

When he retired I wrote him that the word doctor means teacher and that he had taught me a great deal about my body and healing. He wrote back saying he felt satisfied that he had succeeded in that. I was really unhappy that he retired and I would no longer see him as my cherished physician.

In retirement he took classes and made a late Bar Mitzvah. He seemed glad to reclaim his Jewish religious heritage. In the last couple of years he was less sure about notions of God, prayer and why evil existed.

In the late 1990s, I met him on Gough Street in front of Trinity Church where I was then rector. He was on the Trustees of Temple Emmanuel. He said he was mad at the Rabbi because he had hired an assistant who was a lesbian. He said he didn’t care that she was a lesbian but annoyed that the Rabbi hadn’t informed the board of her orientation.

I remember Allan and Jane’s 50th Wedding Anniversary where they threw a grand dinner party and dance at a hotel. We still have the 8x10 color photograph of Ann and me taken at that wonderful occasion. It hangs proudly on our wall to this day.

I shall long remember his gentle manner, caring concern and practical medical wisdom. I trusted him completely. His humor, interest in my family and our mutual friends will always be admired.

Like it or not Allan, the prayers of this gentile Episcopalian are with you wherever you are. Ann and I will remember you, his family, also in these days of loss sorrow and bewilderment.

Sincerely,


Robert

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