Today we held a lovely memorial service and celebration of my Dad’s life. It was well attended by family, friends and colleagues; it was great to see everyone! This was a respectful, upbeat occasion, honoring the remarkable man my Dad was, in eulogy and photographs, food and music. He led a deeply authentic life, steeped in love and a dedicated desire to help mankind. He was an example and mentor to many; we have received countless letters from those he helped from all over the world, several of which I read during the service. I am so proud of being his daughter!
In the photo above, you see him on my son’s first birthday. Below, if you are curious, is the official obituary from his passing in June:
Dr. C. William “Bill” Castor died on Saturday June 11th, 2011 at Duke University Hospital in Durham, NC at the age of 85. His daughter Rebecca was with him when he died of complications of pneumonia and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Castor is survived by his wife of 62 years, Virginia Scott Castor of Hillcrest Convalescent Center in Durham, NC. He leaves three daughters and their families, Rebecca Castor Smith of Chapel Hill, NC, Loretta Castor Adkins of Apple Creek, OH and Polly Castor of Bethel, CT. Also surviving are two sons in law, Steve Adkins and James Early. Six grandchildren remember him fondly, Allen William Smith (wife Heidi) of Raleigh, NC, Rachel Anne Smith of Chapel Hill, NC, Kina Beth Adkins of Apple Creek, OH , Virginia Castor Early, Andrew Scott Early and Laura Taylor Early of Bethel, CT.
Watching family videos over the past few days, we are reminded of how much he loved his family and relished time spent with them. He enjoyed sharing hobbies of camping, hiking, reading, woodworking, and stamp, coin, and rock collecting with us all. His keen intellect and dry sense of humor permeated his daily interactions with others.
Bill Castor married Virginia Scott in August of 1948. Many of us remember their 50th wedding celebration party over Labor Day weekend of 1998. They shared a loving life together in Ann Arbor until health issues prompted their daughters to move them to North Carolina in the summer of 2005, first to an assisted living center, later to a lovely nursing facility.
Dr. Castor has been a University of Michigan man his entire professional life, attending college there as an undergraduate and earning his MD from the University of Michigan in 1951. This training was interrupted by his service with the Army in World War II as an X-ray technician on a hospital ship. He was appointed an instructor in Internal Medicine in July 1955, later becoming an Assistant, Associate and then Full Professor of Internal Medicine in 1967. His professional life included academic research, teaching medical and post-doctoral students and seeing patients in various clinics. His Friday Arthritis clinic was a premier destination for arthritis patients for three decades. In December of 1995, he became an Emeritus Professor of Internal Medicine, even while continuing his research in his lab.
He was justifiably proud of the uninterrupted support from the National Institutes of Health for his research, from 1960 until 1999. Dr. Castor was funded by the Michigan Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation for approximately twenty years. He was interested in the proteins that cause the inflammatory process to occur in joints, leading to various types of arthritis. He particularly was interested in the connective tissue of joints and their synovial fluid. He detailed information about a family of signal proteins he discovered which he called Connecting Tissue Activating Peptides (CTAP), found in blood cells and connective tissue itself. These proteins appear to cause human joint tissue to act in a particular way when arthritis is present.
He participated in numerous professional societies and organizations and was invited to give visiting lectures around the world, in New Zealand, Australia, Finland, Canada, Mexico, and Israel. His curriculum vitae lists well over 200 publications in peer reviewed journals, chapters of books or abstracts. Over the years, Dr. Castor was a teacher to hundreds of medical students, teaching them in a clinical setting as he treated patients in the arthritis or general medicine clinics at University Hospital. In his lab, he hosted numerous post doctoral fellows and helped to launch their research careers.
Dr. C. William Castor was honored to receive numerous awards. Foremost among these was the International Geigy Rheumatism Prize, awarded by the International League Against Rheumatism in 1981. He received the Lee Howley Prize for Arthritis Research from the National Arthritis Foundation in 1985 along with being an invited “key participant” for the XVI International Congress of Rheumatology that same year. In 1991, Dr. Castor received the Distinguished Faculty Lectureship in Biomedical Research from the University of Michigan and was the Howley Plenary Lecturer at the Arthritis Foundation Fellows 40th Anniversary Conference. He was elected to the honorary society Alpha Omega Alpha in January, 1992 and became a Master of the American College of Rheumatology in October, 1992. In September of 1994, he received the Laureate Award from the Michigan Chapter of the American College of Physicians and in September of 1996, he received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the University of Michigan Alumni Society.
His daughters plan to honor their father’s life with a memorial service on Sunday, September 4th, 2011 at 4:00 pm at the Michigan League in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Dr. C. William Castor, A Celebration of Remarkable Life, will be a time to remember what this accomplished, yet humble man has meant to many people. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, that memorial gifts to support arthritis research be sent to the Arthritis Foundation, Michigan Chapter, 1050 Wilshire Suite 302, Troy, MI 48084, attn. Cindy. Cremation services have been provided by Cremation Society of the Carolinas.