Roy Herrick Maffly
Nov. 26, 1927-April 15, 2019
Palo Alto, California
Dr. Roy Herrick Maffly passed away peacefully at home on April 15 after a brief illness. He was surrounded by his loving family.
A fourth-generation Californian, Roy was born November 26, 1927 in Berkeley, CA to Alfred and Frances Maffly. He and his siblings, Jean and Don, grew up enjoying the outdoors in the Bay Area and at Lake Tahoe, where Roy helped run the family’s summer resort at Meadow Park. He loved hiking in Desolation Wilderness and on the John Muir Trail, and he shared time with many cousins and friends in the mountains.
After attending Berkeley High School, Roy finished his undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley, and then graduated from UCSF Medical School in 1952. He served in the U.S. Army (1946) and the U.S. Naval Reserve Medical Corps (1955-57). After undertaking an internship and residency at UCSF and Herrick Memorial Hospital in Berkeley, he worked in the labs of Alexander Leaf at Massachusetts General Hospital and Isidor “Izzy” Edelman at UCSF, conducting pioneering research on the passage of sodium and potassium through cell walls. Those studies led to significant breakthroughs in the treatment of heart and kidney diseases. In 1961 he was recruited by Stanford University to join their new medical campus in Stanford, CA as a professor in the emerging field of nephrology. He taught and conducted research there until his retirement in 1992.
Roy’s service at Stanford followed the model of his mentors; he was a versatile physician, teacher and research scientist who championed the connection of medical practice to broader social issues. He advocated for flexible work schedules that could accommodate women’s multiple roles as mothers and physicians; he helped establish the Minority Admissions Committee that significantly increased the number of underrepresented minority medical students; and he was a pioneer in the introduction of computer-assisted instruction into the curriculum. He was particularly proud of his multiple teaching awards, especially the University-wide Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching, which had never before been awarded to a Medical School faculty member. He also served in multiple administrative roles: co-head of the Division of Nephrology, Chair of the Minority Admissions Committee, Chair of the Faculty Senate, Acting Chair of the Department of Medicine, Chair of the Admissions Committee and Associate Dean for Student Affairs.
Most of all, Roy distinguished himself as a beloved mentor to generations of students who valued his compassion, his genuine interest in their lives, and his commitment to academic medicine as a force for social good. He was especially dedicated to increasing the numbers of underrepresented minority students admitted to Stanford. Moved deeply by racial disparities in healthcare systems, he actively recruited and mentored Native American, African American, and Latinx students to the medical school. He loved listening to and learning from his students, and they spoke often of the gifts of deep humility, empathy, dignity and caring that he brought to his counsel. In later years, Roy touched the lives of many friends and acquaintances who recognized his wisdom, curiosity and gentle humor.
The other great love of Roy’s life was music. Nothing gave him greater joy than listening to a Grieg piano concerto or a Mozart string quintet. His tastes were wide-ranging, but he took particular pleasure in beautiful harmonies in many forms. Over his lifetime he played many instruments, including the cello, ocarina, harmonica, piano, organ, clarinet (both b-flat and bass), ukulele, banjo, accordion, trumpet and sax. Roy frequently engaged his children in games to “guess the composer,” and his whistling and humming was a fixture of the household.
Those closest to him knew his gifts best. Roy loved his family. He married his beloved wife Marilyn in 1952 in a classic medical student-nursing student pairing, and their nearly 68-year partnership brought together two dedicated and skilled healers. Together they raised three children (Robert Maffly, who predeceased him in 1983; Nancy Maffly; and Laurie Maffly-Kipp) who were the light of Roy’s life. He was also a loving and beloved grandfather to Wesley, Joseph, and David Maffly-Kipp, and a beloved father-in-law to Peter Maffly-Kipp. True to his nature, Roy also served as a surrogate father to nephews David Wight and Jim Pyke. He will be greatly missed by all of us, but the values that he has exemplified will guide us every day of our lives.
The family wishes to extend special gratitude to Vitas Hospice and Home Care for their loving and tender care of Roy and support of the family in these last months. Roy was an active contributor to many charitable causes, and the family asks that in lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the American Red Cross, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, the Natural Resources Defense Council, or Planned Parenthood. A celebration of Roy’s life will be held at a date to be determined.