To Your Health

In Memoriam: James Heffley, Ph.D., 1941-2006

Jim Heffley's death, on November 26, was a loss not only to his large circle of family, friends, and colleagues but to all of us in the extended Austin community who, over the course of 30-plus years, were lucky enough to benefit from his extraordinary professional expertise, either caringly administered in person or, since 2001, via his "To Your Health" columns in The Austin Chronicle. Jim was always way ahead of the curve in his scholarly, evidence-based conviction that good health was inextricably bound up with good nutrition; the surest way to keep the doctor away was to provide the body with the nutrients it required over a lifetime. And if you came to this realization late, Jim always had a Plan B: a biochemical/nutritional approach that shored up one's own immune system or, in the case of his large clientele of cancer patients who suffered the harsh effects of medical treatments, fortified the body so it could withstand the onslaught of the medical "cure."

Today, few would question the role of nutrition in good health. But back in 1974, when – with his newly acquired doctorate in biochemistry from UT's Clayton Foundation Biomedical Institute – Jim hung out his nutritional-counseling shingle, his approach triggered the resistance of those in the medical community who traditionally viewed nutrition with a jaundiced eye. Jim soldiered on, and soon his appointments book began to fill with physician referrals, as well as with grateful laymen, like myself, who until his retirement, turned to him – first – on all matters of family preventative health or illness.

Jim will also be remembered – in an era of rushed and rude health care – for his personal kindness. As trite as this may sound, he really cared – way more about what brought you in to see him than about how you intended to pay for his services. He'll be missed terribly; there's really no one else like him.

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