Volunteer faculty, Board Member, Pacific Vision Foundation
Dr. Spencer (I still cannot call him Bill) was an intellectual giant. He could speak at length and off the cuff about the most obscure clinical entities, many of which no one had ever seen. There was an understanding among the residents to limit questions to Dr. Spencer because the answers could be long and complex. In addition, having said it once, he expected that we had that information fully memorized and available. He pretended to be gruff (though it took me three years to realize that it was a pretense). He came from the old school of teachers– expect a lot, frighten a bit and be very miserly with compliments. I almost fell over when he pulled me aside to compliment me at the completion of my residency. I realized later that he had to pull me over because he did not want everyone to know that he gave compliments, especially to residents.
During my third year, he asked me whether I could make room for him at our annual resident ski weekend. I said “of course,” but I smelled a rat. I thought that he might quiz us over dinner. But, as it turned out, he loved the wilderness, loved to ski, and loved to be with the residents and feel their energy and enthusiasm. Sitting next to him on a chairlift and seeing the smile on his face is a life-time memory. And I almost called him “Bill.”