I had read about the Don family when I first came to Oman. He and his still-living wife, Eloise, have lived a life well-worth living.–KAS
Don’s demise marks end of an era
SAGA of service: Renowned surgeon Dr Donald Bosch was the first American to be awarded the Order of Oman by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, for his service to the country. – Supplied photos
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MUSCAT: Well known personality Dr Donald Taeke Bosch passed away at his home in Haramel last night. He was a friend of all who met him and spent his life serving others. He was known for his warm smile, quick sense of humour, and his empathy for those in need.
As a specialist surgeon who worked in Oman for most of his medical career, he saved many lives at a time when medical services were limited. He was the first American to be awarded the Order of Oman by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said in 1972 for his service to the country.
Dr Bosch also authored a number of books on seashells of Oman and the Gulf region. But his life history also includes his experience as a decorated World War II soldier, an accomplished public speaker, and a competitive tennis player.
Don, as he was known among his friends, arrived with his wife Eloise and children in Oman in January, 1955, having spent the previous three years in Iraq learning Arabic and working at the local mission hospital.
Don worked for many years as a surgeon in the American Mission Hospital in Muttrah (later called Ar-Rahma Hospital), while his wife, Eloise, was a teacher at the American Mission School in Muscat.
Dr Bosch worked alongside the legendary Dr Wells Thoms, who had been in Oman for many years. When Dr Thoms retired in 1970, Don succeeded him as chief medical officer of the hospital. Don later became the medical officer in-charge of Khoula Hospital, having successfully helped to incorporate the mission hospitals into the new Ministry of Health hospital programme.
Upon retiring from his position at Khoula Hospital in 1983, the Bosches were awarded Omani nationality and provided a home in Haramel, in recognition for their many years of service to the people of Oman. Don also served as an adviser to the Minister of Health during his retirement years.
Donald was born in Amoy, China, on December 9, 1917, the second of five children, and lived there until he was 12-year-old. His father, Dr. Taeke Bosch, was a doctor in-charge of a Christian mission hospital, and his mother, Margaret Brown Bosch, was a teacher who home-schooled her five children. Moving to the United States at age 12, he moved quickly through secondary school and attended the State University of Iowa, where he was awarded an MD degree in 1941 at age 23.
Don married Eloise Boynton on April 11, 1942.
Don’s medical internship and surgical specialisation was interrupted by the Second World War. In 1942, he joined the US Army Medical Corps, where he was assigned to the 78th Infantry Division. In 1946, he returned to the US and left the Army to continue his specialisation in surgery, first at Bellevue Hospital in New York and then at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey, completing his residency in 1951. In 1950, he was honoured by being named the ‘Outstanding Young Man of the Year’ by the Newark, N.J. Jaycees.
On completing his six years of medical specialisation in surgery, Don accepted an assignment as a surgeon in the Arabian Gulf. The Bosch family arrived in Muscat in January 1955 and Don took up work at the hospital in Mutrah, serving alongside Dr. Thoms and other expatriate American and Indian doctors. Although most of his medical career was spent in Oman, he also served for one year as the CMO of the American Mission Hospital in Kuwait and for two years as the CMO of the American Mission Hospital in Bahrain. In 1958, Dr. Bosch was named a Member of the American College of Surgeons.
Don became a collector of seashells as a result of the family’s weekend visits to the local Omani beaches, where he noticed the many seashells on the shore. He wrote to the Museum of Natural History in New York City, asking them if they would be interested in specimens collected from Oman.
The Museum responded with enthusiasm, advising that they would be happy to identify any specimens that he sent, as their scientists had very little knowledge of the seashells of Oman. Thus began a love affair with the world of conchology. Don would be internationally recognised as an expert on seashells of the Arabian Gulf, and seashells would forever be a family interest and occupation.
In 1982, Don and Eloise co-authored their first book on Oman’s seashells, Seashells of Oman. This effort was followed by Seashells of Southern Arabia in 1989. In 1995, Don organised and co-authored the comprehensive volume that described over 1,000 different local species, Seashells of Eastern Arabia.
Don and Eloise, with the help of their children and grandchildren, discovered over 20 species of seashells in Oman’s waters that were new to science, many of which were named after family members.
One of the most beautiful, well-known species is named Punctada Eloisae after Don’s wife.
In 2000, Don and Eloise, in response to interest about their lives, co-authored a book about their early days in Oman, The Doctor and The Teacher, Oman 1955-1970. At the request of the then Minister of Health, Dr. Ali bin Muhammad bin Moosa, Don researched and wrote, The American Mission Hospitals in Oman, 1893 – 1974, which the Ministry published in 2001, covering the 81 years that the American Mission hospitals served Oman.
Don is survived by his wife Eloise, three children, five grandchildren., and two great grandchildren.