Home  /  News  /  Clinical Care  / 

Colleagues Remember Dr. J. Donald Temple 

Members of the Miller School's Harrington Training Programs for Latin America
Dr. J. Donald Temple

Dr. J. Donald Temple, a renowned hematologist, lifelong Miamian and longtime member of the Miller School of Medicine family, passed away on April 26. 

Born and raised in Miami, Dr. Temple enrolled at the University of Miami as an undergraduate in 1972. After medical school, residency training and fellowships at the University of Miami School of Medicine, he joined the medical school faculty in the Division of Hematology/Oncology.  

Dr. Temple was director of the Hematology Clinic and Sickle Cell Clinic at Jackson Memorial Hospital and chief of inpatient service at the University of Miami Hospital and Clinics. Additionally, he was associate director of the International Health Center and director of the Office of Professional Development and Career Guidance, Student Affairs, at the Miller School. 

His principal areas of interest included red cell disorders and hematologic malignancies. His research on sickle cell disease was supported by recurrent National Institutes of Health funding. 

“Dr. Temple was my student, resident and faculty colleague for as long as he was active at UM,” said Laurence B. Gardner, M.D., professor of medicine and senior advisor to the dean at the Miller School. “He was an extraordinary teacher, physician and human being – never had a bad word for anyone. He has been and will be missed by us all.” 

Dr. Temple was a diplomat of the National Board of Medical Examiners, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), the ABIM Subspecialty of Hematology and ABIM Subspecialty of Oncology. He was named South Florida “Doctor of the Year” in 1990 and appeared in the pages of the 1999 edition of “Who’s Who in America.”  

Members of the Miller School's Harrington Training Programs for Latin America
Dr. Temple (center, in white shirt and tie) with members of the Harrington Training Programs for Latin America

Dr. Temple’s passion, however, was the classroom. 

“Teaching is the single-most important thing I do,” Dr. Temple said. “Our number one priority is to educate.” 

He did it extremely well. He was elected Grand Marshall of the Miller’s School’s commencement ceremony five times and Student Marshall another four times. The 2001 Miller School graduating class voted Dr. Temple “Best Clinical Attending Physician” and he was recipient of the 2002 Faculty Senate Outstanding Teaching Award. 

Miller School medical students award the George Paff Teaching Award to instructors who excel in the difficult, didactic art of preparing the next generation of physicians. The award may someday bear the name of Dr. Temple, as he garnered the honor an astounding 26 times during his career. He passed on a lifetime of learning to a cadre of students whom he hoped would also continue to learn even after they graduated. 

“My philosophy is that in medical education, it’s a lifelong process,” Dr. Temple said. “So you don’t have to learn everything all at once.” 

“Don was a highly valued member of the Hematology Division of the Department of Medicine. He was an extraordinary lecturer and also a talented clinician who was loved by his patients as much as the students appreciated him,” said John Byrnes, M.D., professor of medicine in the Miiller School. “Don was a Florida native with family roots in agriculture.  His personality reflected that of his upbringing—hardworking, talented, very Southern mannered. His education and career development were all University of Miami, and there was no greater Hurricane fan.” 

Noted by colleagues and students alike for his geniality and humility, the Miller School established the J. Donald Temple, M.D., Unsung Hero Award for faculty members who demonstrate exceptional service and commitment to medical education. 

Dr. Temple embodied the Miller School’s global mission. As director of the Harrington Training Programs for Latin America, a position he assumed in 1992, Dr. Temple trained thousands of medical students, residents and faculty members from that region, as well as South America and the Caribbean. After training at the School of Medicine, the students return to their native countries to provide advanced medical care. 

“The University of Miami started out with the intent to be an international center for education,” Dr. Temple said. “We’re a global university.” 

Panamanian infectious disease specialist Nestor Sosa, M.D., former general director of Gorgas Memorial Institute of Health Studies and governor of the Central America Chapter of the American College of Physicians, interviewed for the Harrington Program with Dr. Temple himself. 

“I still remember my telephone interview with Dr. Temple,” he said. “I was doing my internship in a remote rural community with only one public telephone that could receive an international long-distance call. I had to wait at the telephone company’s office and then run 200 yards to the phone and accept the call. A few weeks later, I was notified that I had been accepted, and that was one of the happiest days of my life.” 

“Don Temple’s contribution will always be valued and remembered,” said Eduardo De Marchena, M.D, professor of cardiovascular medicine and associate dean for international medicine at the Miller School, who has served as medical director of the Harrington Program after Dr. Temple. “His hard work, commitment and dedication are worthy of admiration. He was a great friend, colleague, physician-scientist and educator. He was a kind, soft-spoken man loved by all.” 

Happiness was a feeling common to so many who were fortunate to learn from Dr. Temple.  

Memorial services will be held June 1 at 1 p.m. at the Stanfill Funeral Home in Miami.