Thomas R. Allyn, MD
March 12, 2021
Thomas Richard Allyn, M.D. passed away on March 12, 2021 with his beloved family by his side. Tom lived life on his terms and his passing was no different; he steered his own ship until the end.
Tom was born in Springfield, IL on July 24, 1946 to Richard Allyn, M.D. and Ruth Allyn, R.N. In his early years, Tom was an age group swimmer and was later named captain of his high school swim team where one of his records remains unbroken today. Tom completed his undergraduate studies at Northwestern University where he was president of his fraternity Beta Theta Pi.
After graduating from Northwestern, Tom taught school in inner city Chicago for two years before moving on to Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. In his junior year, he was elected to the medical honor society Alpha Omega Alpha. Tom also served on the curriculum committee, was president of his residence hall, and received the Psychiatry Prize for his work with monoamine oxidase inhibitors and hypertension.
Upon graduating from Columbia, Tom moved on to Massachusetts General Hospital where he completed his internship, residency, and a fellowship in Nephrology. It was in his first days at MGH that he met his lifelong love, Denise. Tom and Denise married in 1975 and went on to have three wonderful children. They would have celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary this year.
After completing his studies at the MGH in 1979, Tom established the acute dialysis program and was Chief of Hemodialysis and acting Chief of Nephrology at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA, also running a successful private practice at that time.
In 1981, the young family moved across the country to Santa Barbara where Tom joined Michael B. Fisher, M.D. in his Nephrology practice. Soon after moving to Santa Barbara, Tom was named Chief of Nephrology at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and Co-Director of their Acute Dialysis program. He held these positions until 2016. Tom not only had an insatiable love of learning but was also a gifted and dedicated educator. He relished his time teaching Cottage's medical residents, receiving the Excellence in Teaching Award every year from 1987 to 2007.
While at SBCH, Tom served as the Co-Chairman of the Medical Advisory Panel for several years, which was responsible for the development and implementation of many of SBCH's important programs for patient care. Tom enjoyed writing about that process with Dr. Kenneth Cohn, receiving the Dean Conley Award from the American College of Healthcare Executives for the best paper in 2009.
In the 1980s, Drs. Allyn and Fisher established the Santa Barbara Artificial Kidney Center, the Lompoc Artificial Kidney Center, and the first successful multi¬-station dialysis center in Leòn, Mexico. Through these endeavors he helped care for thousands of patients over many decades. Tom regularly acknowledged that he could not have accomplished any of the above without the strong support of his family and exceptional staff. He had such respect for his employees and a true love for his patients.
Although medicine was Tom's lifelong passion, he took even greater pride and joy watching his children grow and excel in their lives: Jenny, a nurse practitioner in Nashville; Kim, a speech-language pathologist in San Francisco; and Paul, an Infectious Diseases physician at UCLA. In more recent years, Tom so enjoyed watching his grandchildren grow; each one bringing even more joy and love to his life. He was incredibly loving, supportive, and generous to his family and truly gave them a rich and beautiful life.
Tom is survived by his wife Denise, children Jenny (Dave), Kim (Chad), and Paul (Liz), grandchildren Summer (10), Christopher (9), Julia (7), William (4), and Taylor (1), as well as his siblings Barbara, Paul, and David.
Those who knew and loved Tom have suffered a tremendous loss, and the medical community in Santa Barbara will never be the same. He made such an incredible impact on so many people and without a doubt achieved his life's goal: "to make a difference."
The Allyn family would like to thank everyone who supported them through this difficult transition. They feel blessed to have many dear friends and owe a huge debt of gratitude to the kind and compassionate staff of Serenity House.
In lieu of flowers, consider donating to one of the organizations Tom regularly supported: United Way, CALM, or the Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation.
Services will be private with plans for a larger celebration of life later this year.
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