Fifty years after graduating from Gilmour, Fred Delse ’59 still remembers the feelings of excitement and discovery he experienced at the Academy. "Gilmour was the incubator of my intellectual life," says Delse. The Silicon Valley psychiatrist links his educational experience at the Academy to many skills and traits he developed in high school. "Gilmour gave me a good grounding in language arts and science, and I had a very sophisticated background in English literature thanks to Brother Ivo Regan, C.S.C." One of the teacher's sophomore reading assignments was Sigmund Freud's "New Introductory Lectures." Delse, who was co-valedictorian of his class, says this was a "seminal experience in my wanting to study psychiatry."
His academic and professional career also was predicated on debate, lessons from English instructor John Gale and working with his debate partner, Dan Kolb '59, now a prominent Manhattan attorney. "It gave me a head start in developing an appreciation and a working knowledge of the art of rhetoric," Delse says. He learned how to get things done, lead and work on deadline as editor of the yearbook and newspaper. Traveling the world with his wife, Anne, a retired elementary school teacher, son Fred and daughter Kat, Delse learned the value that travel provides in enriching one's social and cultural experiences. This, too, he traces to a summer trip to Europe with Brother lvo and his classmates.
Following high school, Delse headed to MIT, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree. "Paul Primeau, my chemistry teacher during my junior year at Gilmour, would be happy to hear that I had the highest grade on my first chemistry exam at MIT," he says. Delse received his Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Duke University completing his internship at the University of Maryland Medical Center and his residency in psychiatry at Stanford University Medical Center.
Throughout most of his career, Delse has practiced in California, although he spent two years in the early 1970s as an officer with the United States Public Health Service, working in Lexington, Ky., with the National Institute of Mental Health Clinical Research Center. From 1975 until 1987, Delse was an instructor in psychiatry at Stanford University and was staff psychiatrist at Stanford Hospital and El Camino Hospital. He served as chief resident in psychiatry at the Palo Alto VA Medical Center, was medical director of its Psychiatric Day Hospital and was chief of the psychiatry department at El Camino Hospital, where he served on its board of directors. He was psychiatric medical director of the Senior Transitional Center in San Jose and a psychiatric consultant to the Southeastern Asian Refugee Mental Health Center there. In 2006, Delse was designated an American Psychiatric Association Distinguished Life Fellow.
"In my work, I am an advocate for people's own good, a doctor, a life coach and, I hope, a mentor for fulfillment in mind and spirit,'' Delse says.
The Palo Alto resident enjoys gardening, plays racquetball four days a week and works out the other three days at a local gym. He has an avid interest in politics and economics. When he retires next year, Delse plans to write a self-help book about techniques to maintain a functional family. Grandson, Evan, no doubt, will be part of his attentive audience when Delse takes up classical guitar.