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Yale 62

William M. (Bill) Carleton

William M. (Bill) Carleton passed away in November, 2023, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Bill was born in Providence, R.I. the son of Harry and Anne Troberman Carleton, and came to Yale from Hope High School in Providence, R.I. He lived in Silliman with David Smith and Whit Whitney, majored in Zoology, became a ranking scholar, and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, Alpha Phi Omega, Dwight Hall, and the News board. His wife Donna reports that Bill had very fond memories of his time at Yale and felt that he received a wonderful education.

After graduating summa cum laude, Bill headed north to get an M.D. at Harvard Medical School. He did his internship and first-year residency in internal medicine at the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. In the Vietnam War era, military service was required of new physicians, and Bill joined the Air Force. He became Captain Carleton, stationed in San Antonio and affiliated with the Brooks School of Aerospace Medicine where he conducted medical research for NASA’s Apollo program.

While he was in medical school, Bill met and fell in love with Donna Richmond, a graduate of Connecticut College, who was studying for a master’s degree in education. Bill and Donna were married in 1966, and had two daughters: Elizabeth, who was born while the family was in San Antonio, and Melissa, who was born after the family returned to Boston. After leaving the military, Bill did a two-year fellowship at Brigham and Women’s, Children’s and Beth Israel Hospitals in Boston, specializing in infectious diseases. He told Donna he wanted to practice medicine wherever they bought a house, and they chose Sudbury, a leafy suburb about 25 miles west of Boston with a history stretching back to colonial times. Bill was one of four doctors who founded the Southboro Medical Group, a pioneer in multi-specialty patient care. He practiced medicine for thirty-five years as an internist, mentor, leader and respected medical consultant. Donna commented, “He loved his patients and they loved him. He was a marvelous, wonderful doctor, who was very calm, very knowledgeable.”

Bill’s first love was his family. He enjoyed playing basketball in the back yard and fishing on Quabbin Reservoir with his daughters. He had many hobbies. He loved boats, cars, model trains, art, music and dogs. At various times, the family owned two Bichons Frises and two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, including one dog that Bill playfully named Ritz Carleton. For about a decade, the family enjoyed vacationing at a second home in Mashpee on Cape Cod.

The family lived in Sudbury for 41 years, then downsized to a condo in the nearby town of Wayland as Bill was experiencing symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. He was officially diagnosed with Parkinson’s in October, 2002, but “didn’t let it define him.” He continued to practice medicine for another five years, before retiring in 2007. Bill was always an active learner who was willing to try almost anything, and he approached Parkinson’s in the same spirit. After retirement, he remained committed to life-long learning and to his family, including his grandchildren — Elizabeth’s daughters, Lauren and Jaclyn, and Melissa’s sons, Asher and Noah. Bill was a devoted grandfather, whom the grandchildren referred to as “Wikipedia” because they were so impressed with his breadth of knowledge.

After his death, Donna commented, “He is greatly missed and greatly remembered, but how fortunate I was to be his soul mate.”

The family suggests that gifts in his honor be directed toward a cure for Parkinson’s to The Michael J. Fox Foundation or a charity of your choice.

— Lee G. Bolman