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Douglas B Webster, PhD
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Dr. Douglas B. Webster, PhD
(1934- 2017)


He was a gifted teacher, often recognized as such, and his passion for it equaled that for his research.



Douglas Barnes Webster died on September 21, 2017, in Green Valley, Arizona. He was 83 years old.


Doug grew up in Ripon, Wisconsin, the youngest child of Edwin White Webster and Merry Eva Crowe Webster. He attended Oberlin College, where he graduated with an AB in Zoology and where he met his wife and life-long companion, Mary (“Molly”) Bartholomew. He earned a Ph.D. in Zoology from Cornell University and had a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at Cal Tech.


He taught Comparative Anatomy and other biology courses for 11 years at the University Heights campus of New York University. In 1973, he went to Louisiana State University Medical School in New Orleans with appointments in Otorhinolaryngology & Biocommunication, Anatomy, and Communication Disorders; he taught gross anatomy, neuroanatomy, and neuroscience to medical and allied health students.


He was a gifted teacher, often recognized as such, and his passion for it equaled that for his research.  


His early research was on auditory anatomy, physiology, and evolution in desert rodents. Later he studied the effects of neonatal hearing loss on central auditory integrity, and the auditory system of mice with hereditary deafness. From these studies came 47 refereed research papers and over 100 other publications including two widely used textbooks.


He was a member of the American Society of Zoologists Division of Vertebrate Morphology, the J.B. Johnston Club, and the Society for Neuroscience where he was later elected an emeritus member. He was an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an elected member of the Scientific Research Honor Society (Sigma Xi).


He and his wife were advocates for the LGBT community in New Orleans and founded the New Orleans chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays in 1982.


The studies on desert rodents led him and his family to collecting trips and field work in the southwest, starting with a summer at the American Museum of Natural History’s Southwest Research Station near Portal, Arizona. These experiences in turn led to a great love for that region. Upon his retirement in 1998, he and his wife moved to Patagonia, Arizona, where they lived for 12 years before moving to La Posada, a Continuing Care Retirement Community, in Green Valley.


Retirement gave him the time to renew his early interest in fine woodworking and cabinet-making; this became his new passion. For most of his seven-plus years at La Posada, he was in charge of the Resident Workshop, where he pursued his own projects and helped other residents who needed something built, something fixed, or something explained.


Doug was preceded in death by a brother, John T. (Jack) Webster, and their sister, Margaret Webster Sommerfeld. He is survived by Molly, his wife of 62 years; their son, William Barnes (Will) Webster, and his wife, Jane; their daughter, Mary-jo Webster, and her wife, Dawn Wesson; two brothers, Edwin T. (Ned) Webster and James E. (Jim) Webster; three grandchildren, a great-granddaughter born one week before his death, and two cats. He is remembered for his sense of humor and his kindness.


In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Posada Life Foundation (350 Morningside Drive, Green Valley 85614; designated for the Resident Workshop; or support for your local National Public Radio station.


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