Doctor’s Orders

3 August 2013

Retired cardiologist Bud Eugster ’63 looks back on a life well lived.


Bud Eugster ’63

Born: March 12, 1941, in Wayzata, Minnesota

Education: 1963, BA Carleton (physics); 1967, MD University of Minnesota (internal medicine, specializing in cardiology)

Military service: 1972–1974, U.S. Air Force, stationed in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Medical career: Practiced cardiology for 26 years in Spokane, Washington, before retiring in 2000. In 1991 was among 50 physicians who founded the Spokane Heart Institute, served as its first board chair and, with his peers, helped create a world-class treatment and research center

Retirement activities: Hunting, fly-fishing, skiing, and woodworking; volunteered two to three days a week building houses for Habitat for Humanity; served on the planning committee for his 50th Reunion at Carleton

Family: He and his wife, Susan, have 3 children and 7 grandchildren

Related Carls: Jack Eugster ’67 (brother, chair of Carleton’s Board of Trustees), Wilson Michael Eugster ’02 (nephew)

Bud fishing

I grew up in the 1950s as a product of the Sputnik generation. I was going to be an engineer and beat the Russians to the next satellite. I studied physics at Carleton, but soon realized that I preferred more interaction with people than I would find in a research lab, so I shifted my thinking to premed.

My cardiology professor at the University of Minnesota so impressed me that I decided to go into cardiology. Several people made that kind of impact on me and, as a young physician, I went back and thanked them for helping me find my path.

Life as a cardiologist was never boring. I seldom if ever looked at my watch; I just kept doing what I had to do until it was done. Being in a group practice meant lots of 70- and 80-hour weeks. In retrospect, I would have liked to find more time to spend with my family.

Form meaningful relationships and stick with them. I’ve been married to my wife for 47 years. When there was a problem in our marriage, our only objective was to try to solve it rather than to run away from it. There were some tough times, but our marriage has never been stronger than it is now. I worked in the same practice with my best friend until we both retired. Our kids grew up together and we’ve been part of everybody’s sorrows and joys.

If people think I’m in a rut, that’s fine with me. I just feel good that the people around me now have been around me for a long time and they’re still people I care about. I’d like to have all my old hunting dogs here, too, but they keep dying.

We’ve enjoyed spending lots of time on mountains with our kids and grandkids. Skiing brings our family together, which is what makes it the most fun.

Sometimes the care you’re providing for other people you don’t provide for yourself. I had a heart attack when I was 59. I made a lot of changes and found doctors to take care of me.

Volunteering for Habitat for Humanity gave me as much pleasure as medicine did. Retirement has allowed me to explore my other interests while still contributing to society and giving back to others.

Shortly before I retired, I started fly-fishing, and I can’t get enough of it. Floating down a river in Montana and trying to figure out what fish are thinking is a wonderful challenge, as well as an opportunity for camaraderie with friends.

I’ve been diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer. I’m going to die from it soon. I’ve been doing chemotherapy, but not as vigorously as my oncology advisers would like so that I can still enjoy my family and find a bit more fishing time. I’m fortunate that I retired 13 years ago and have had this time to spend with family and do things that I enjoy doing.

I have a nice group of friends from Carleton. My first Carleton roommate, Bruce Keeler ’63, whom I lived with on fourth Davis, is someone I can turn to for support, as well as Lee Mauk ’63, who has been a friend ever since we waited tables together in Burton. When I least expect it, I’ll get a phone call from one of these friends saying, “I just called to talk.”

My undergraduate years were the most meaningful part of my education. They were also the hardest. Medical school was easy compared to Carleton. I’m proud to tell people that.  

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  • 2013-08-14 16:05:25
    Wendell Duffield

    Bud was a friend during our Carleton years and beyond, although while his career had him doctoring people mine had me "doctoring" volcanoes. We've shared many Carleton classmate friends and have stayed in touch over the post-Carleton years. He has always seemed more mature than me, but I think Bud would be surprised to see that this issue of VOICE lists him as ten years my senior!!

  • 2014-05-05 20:52:19
    steve king

    This was a great man.  A great cardiologist.  He passed away Sunday night May 4, 2014.  He will be missed.

  • 2014-05-07 22:47:31
    Ann Ralston

    This was great to read. We will miss you Bud. Thanks for helping to raise me in the Inland Northwest. You provided so much opportunity and joy for your family. I was privileged to enjoy so much Eugster joy as Betsy's good friend. I have so many great memories of Fun Runs, Bloomsday, sailing on Coeur d' Alene, Priest Lake, and skiing Schweitzer. Love to the Eugsters always, Ann