Dear Guild members, fellow licensed acupuncturists and friends of acupuncture,
Dr. Donald E. (Deke) Kendall, well known to acupuncture students and faculty across the U.S. for the past four decades, has passed away at the age of 87 on September 22nd, 2017. Deke was a co-founder of NGAOM along with principals George Wedemeyer and Ted Priebe. Deke has inspired, taught and mentored most of the long time Guild members along with thousands of other acupuncture students, medical doctors, dentists, veterinarians and other health professionals, since he began teaching at California Acupuncture College in 1981. The goals, values and assumptions that brought the Guild into existence came directly from Deke. Deke saw our profession as the equal of any medical profession and created the standards for training and competencies that the Guild is committed to reaching.
Friends, colleagues, admirers and family will celebrate Deke’s life October 21, 2017 at St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church 5801 Kanan Road, Westlake VIllage, CA 91362. The service will begin at 11:00 AM followed by a “Celebration of Life”, also at Maximilian Kolbe Church. If you would like to offer remembrances at the “Celebration of Life” or if you would like further information, contact: Jerome Lingad at (818)292-3303 or at Gdlingad@gmail.com.
We want to offer thousands of licensed acupuncturists across the country who knew and loved Deke or who benefitted from Deke’s teaching or books the opportunity to prepare and post a few words in memory of Deke. Please leave words of remembrance and sincere condolences in the section below.
The passing of a great leader in the field gives us all pause to consider why we all chose this field and what it means to be a licensed acupuncturist. Deke’s major premise, and the major premise of NGAOM, is that licensed acupuncture deserves to be a full and equal partner in the United States system of healthcare delivery. In order to be considered worthy of that status, acupuncture and its mechanisms of action have to be explained in terms that the scientific community, the conventional medical and allied professional medical communities can understand and accept. Deke’s work, as both a doctor of Oriental medicine (OMD) and a Ph.D. in Psychophysiology, has been instrumental in doing just that. Deke’s work, by defining the mechanisms of action, establishing the validity of the underlying science and therefore helping establish the credibility of acupuncture has done all of us practitioners a great service. For those who didn’t have the opportunity to study directly with Deke, Lotus offers an excellent video program and his universally acclaimed book Dao of Chinese Medicine is available from Amazon.com
Scope of practice for acupuncture which parallels that of other medical professions was a major focus of Dr. Kendall and is a major focus of NGAOM Coursework which that justifies expanded scope of practice by enhancing competencies was also a major focus of Deke and is a major focus of NGAOM.
Deke was adamant in his belief that, because of the enormous benefit which licensed acupuncturists deliver to the public that all acupuncturists ought to make an excellent living. In support of that mission, Deke taught courses for 37 years around the country and around the world. The directors of the National Guild have made it our mission to carry on Dr. Kendall’s work, by persistent efforts to elevate our profession to its rightful place in America’s healthcare system. We are committed to helping every licensed acupuncturist make an excellent living so that this medicine can be of increasing benefit to more and more of our citizens.
So, if you would like to honor Deke’s memory and warm the hearts of his family, who witnessed the 1000’s of hours of research, writing and teaching that Deke devoted to the elevation of our profession, please leave your condolences below to the family of a great man.
George Wedemeyer says
I First met Deke at the home of Ted Priebe and Cynthia Birkhimer for a discussion on Acupuncture and the Acupuncture Guild. Deke took to the concept of forming an Acupuncture Guild. As the saying goes—he got it. Deke’s papers have been a driving force behind the Acupuncture Guild. I would like to digress a little at this time to mention the connection between Deke and the Guild.
I met Ted and Cynthia at a meeting I had arranged with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the acupuncture community during an acupuncture symposium in San Diego. SEIU soon realized the acupuncture people were in disarray and not ready for unionization. Ted and Cynthia got it and asked me to press on with organizing the acupuncturist.
Around 1993 the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) won a law suite allowing it to organize profession organizations. This is exactly the time the I approached OPEIU in San Francisco asking to form the Guild. This is why I feel we were the first Guild to join the OPEIU but, we did not have the enough members at the time, after working on it, we came up with the numbers and later officially joined OPEIU. Ted and Cynthia shall be given a great deal of credit for
build the Guild during that period of time.
Deke, Ted and I, in the late 1990s), attended the President’s conference (Clinton Administration) on the use of Alternative Medicine in Washington, D.C. Where we (the Guild) established good connections
with Board Members. Deke delivered his papers at the conference and I must tell you they were very well received.
Over these many years, I spoke to Dek and read his papers. Over the course of time, I used those papers when I met with State of California Representatives and U.S. Congress Senators and Representatives.
Due to Deke’s work, many minds have been changed in this area but more work needs to be accomplished. These papers are invaluable and continue to focus us on the huge amount of work that is needed. He stated a wave of work that will continue and eventually change how of acupuncture is taught in this country.
Deke you will be missed.
Mario Mancini says
Donald Kendall, better known as Deke, was a visionary, a great teacher, and a friend. His insights and understanding of Chinese medicine provided many the foundation to truly use the medicine as it was intended. Although most known for his translation of an ancient physiologically based medicine, more importantly, the footprint he left was his enthusiasm, his commitment and his vision for whats possible for the future of Chinese medicine. He will always be in our hearts and the hearts of every patient helped by the medicine.
Kris Justesen says
I’m sorry to hear of Dekes passing. Unfortunately, I did not know him personally.
I honor and appreciate any of our colleagues who have taken a place at the helm. The profession as a whole needs to be appreciative of the sacrifices made folks such as Deke. It seems he did much for our profession and I am grateful for his influence and impact moving our profession into the light and into mainstream medicine.
Thank you Deke for your hard work and diligence to dignify our profession, even though many in other professions attempted to derail such efforts. We are honored to have had you as our Esteemed Colleague and Friend.
Cynthia Birkhimer says
I had the great fortune of meeting Deke over 20 years ago and realized that I was in the presence of an amazing human being, teacher and mentor with the kindest most gentle soul. Deke was a fierce protector of Acupuncture as a real medicine. He instilled in us, his students, the strong values and vision to propel us into the future toward integration of Acupuncture into the mainstream. I feel so deeply honored to have been able to sit in the classroom as Deke taught us “The Dao of Chinese Medicine” in 2004-2006. It changed my life and my practice. Deke leaves a legacy having changed Acupuncture forever and has inspired his many students to carry on with his work. I am blessed to have met and known Deke.
Cindy Palay says
The above comments have stirred so many long lost memories, I had forgotten the power of Deke’s mind, and the insight into our medicine and how much it colored the way that I have been practicing Chinese Medicine for 30 years. I still use his protocol for smoking cessation and have helped multiple people to quite using this addictive substance. Deke through his work and mind, has helped me change the lives of other.
However, on a personal level, I remember hanging our with Deke, laughing with him, and enjoying taking a ride in his Corvette (if I remember correctly it was yellow). That is what I most remember, was his humanity, and enjoying him, even though I felt more than a bit self-conscious as it was clear to me that I was in the presence of someone with knowledge, experience, and intellect that I could only aspire to at that time in my life.
I haven’t seen Deke since I received my license, which is 30 years, however, his impact in my life is clearly and deeply felt.
Christiane Christ says
I first met Deke in 1982 at California Acupuncture College in West LA. I remember seeing a very impressive, tall, tattooed guy with a great sense of humor and a terrific intellect who spoke with conviction.
His course, the Scientific Basis of Acupuncture, changed my view of acupuncture and convinced me that there was a career to be had. Prior to that and exclusive of his work, I didn’t see anything in my training that led me to believe that people would have credence in the idea that acupuncture was a legitimate healing system.
I had the pleasure of seeing Deke in subsequent years in Hawaii when I returned from finishing my education in China and Hong Kong. I continued taking a series of courses with Deke on the clinical practice of acupuncture when he came over from California to teach them in Hawaii.
Deke’s courses were so popular that I was able to work with him in 1994 to promote the National Board of Acupuncture Orthopedics program in conjunction with the Hawaii Acupuncture Association. This was a 308 hour post graduate program which many of us in the Guild took. We managed to train about 50 acupuncturists out of 300 or so in Hawaii.
Deke was always accessible to his students and he kept up a correspondence with many of us in Hawaii. He never failed to answer our questions when we called him at his home in California. Deke’s guidelines for treatment in his book Acupuncture Orthopedics has been a clinical bible for many of us.
Deke was a great promoter. Deke organized a number of international conferences in LA and I was honored to be one of the presenters. He had the credibility and the organizational ability to bring many top mainland Chinese doctors to America. Their outstanding presentations were of great help to the hundreds of us in the audience.
Deke said that he never missed an opportunity to promote the medicine. When Deke promoted acupuncture, he said that he never spoke about his own capacities, but always spoke of the mechanisms and capacities of the medicine.
Deke summarized acupuncture by saying that it reduces inflammation, reduces pain, enhances tissue repair and elevates mood. It does so through the manipulation of the body’s neurochemistry. The talks and presentations that I’ve given over the last 30 years have been based upon principles I learned from Deke. No one else had the capacity to translate ancient Chinese characters, such superb acupuncture training and a PhD in Psychopathology. He gave order and scientific credibility to our field and made his students the equal of other medical professionals.
For years many of us encouraged Deke to write the definitive acupuncture textbook. He worked on that book for years and produced a tremendous manuscript, his impeccably researched Dao of Chinese Medicine,
As luck would have it, one of my patients in Hong Kong was a senior editor of Oxford University Press in London. She asked to read the manuscript. She and the editorial board at Oxford loved the book and they published it in 2002.
I kept in touch with Deke over the years and I would call him on his birthdays and whenever I had problems that I could not solve in the clinic.
I visited Deke at his home in 2006 and remember seeing him wearing his LAPD baseball cap. He told me that LAPD did not stand for Los Angeles Police Department. It stood for local, adjacent, proximal and distal acupoints!
Even more impressive than his scholarship and teaching, was his personality and his character. Deke was a complete gentleman. He was gracious and chivalrous. He was a model for many of us. He told me and the rest of his students that people study your example. He used to say that you must live what you teach your patients. You have to eat properly, exercise properly and live the principles that you instruct people in. Without any egotism, Deke told me that he could heal people just by talking to them. He had an absolutely magnetic personality and his very presence bespoke vitality, exuberance and a love of life.
Knowing Deke has had a huge influence on me personally and professionally. He lived life of service. He was so proud of his kids and his grandkids. He worked seven days a week. Over the 35 years I knew Deke, I would often call him on a Sunday. He was invariably researching, writing or teaching. But no matter how busy he was, he always had time for me. He was uniquely generous.
Because of his insistence on a scientific and rational approach to acupuncture, Deke ran into a lot of opposition and conflict. People attacked Deke viciously personally and professionally, but he always controlled his temper, kept his dignity and tried to persuade those who rejected the necessity of respecting scientific validation. He was a science-based guy and our field is still not a science-based field at the level of most acupuncture publications, teaching institutions and associations,
When George Wedemeyer and Ted Priebe organized the National Guild of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine in 1999, Deke and his teachings were the rock it upon which it was built.
I hadn’t seen Deke for 10 years before I came back to see him last year. Deke was slipping mentally at 86 but he was at peace with the world and at peace with God. He was still incredibly handsome and he still looked 20 years younger than his age, testimony to a lifetime of vegetarianism, fitness, meditation and selfless service. He still radiated love and magnaminity.
Deke is a pillar of our field and the NGAOM is going to make his writings a significant part of our website. He testified on behalf of acupuncture before Congress and we will put that testimony up on our website, along with his articles and excerpts from his writings. Deke asked us to the spread the word about what he did and we are honored to do that.
Deke, thank you for everything you gave us. Those of us in the Guild and all of us who loved you carry your legacy in our practices and in our hearts.