Dr. William Connors

This past week the world of doctors, dieticians and parents lost a quiet, gentle leader. 

Dr. William Connors was considered by many to be the first guru of all low fat diets.  He graduated from medical school in 1950, when I was one year old.  That makes him a member of the "greatest generation" for whom the concept of eating less saturated fat was revolutionary.

Because of his fame as an advocate for eating less fat, I decided to take him the Kartini Clinic meal plan which I first developed in 1998.  Believe me, this was done with some trepidation since I do not now and did not then endorse what are commonly thought of as "low fat diets".  Rather, I endorse eating and cooking "real food" from "ingredients": whole milk, whole milk yogurt, smaller amounts of meat, chicken and fish, lots of olive oil and LOTS of vegetables.  I attended a small lecture given by Dr Connors and his wife Sonja—his lifelong research companion-in-arms—and was struck by how gentle and self-effacing he was, how energetic she was. There were perhaps ten of us in the room.  After the discussion I showed him my meal plan and let him know the population it was intended to cover (children and adolescents with eating disorders).  He read it carefully.  The whole milk did not give him any pause.  He handed it back to me:  "If your patients—if anyone—eats like this, then they are eating a naturally low fat diet," he said.  "Nice meal plan".  I went away satisfied that I had done my job.

But Dr Connors was more than a diet guru or even a physician and researcher.  During the 70's he campaigned against the War in Vietnam; he campaigned against the death penalty.  He was even more interested in social justice than in medicine.  His pastor Chuck Currie writes of him:

"Dr. Connor was a tireless advocate for social justice rooted in the Gospel teachings of Jesus. Together with Sonja (now the board chair of the Goose Hollow Family Shelter), he worked to alleviate homelessness and poverty by supporting both social service agencies and public policy proposals meant to help change the conditions that allow poverty and homelessness to grow in the first place.
Bill and Sonja Connor were two of the strongest voices in favor of First United Methodist Church declaring itself to be a "Reconciling Congregation" ? which means to become welcoming of gays and lesbians…….. As the chair of the congregation's Church and Society Committee, Dr. Connor pushed First United Methodist Church to take early stands against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. "

Whether or not you or I share all of his views, this was a great man and one who touched the lives of children at Kartini Clinic in a way they did not even guess.

Thank you, Dr Connor, thank you