I Am Joining The Joslin Medalist Group/ My Sister's Letter

The Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston gives medals to diabetics who have lived with their diabetes for 50 and 75 years. They also provide certificates for 25 years. I have had diabetes for 63 years so I am applying for the 50 year medal. To be accepted I must show proof that I have been diabetic for at least 50 years. The hospital where I was admitted in 1945 keeps records for only the past 10 years and my parents and doctors (from back then) are all deceased. I was told that letters from people who knew me well in those years would be accepted. My cousin and my sister have written letters and they have been mailed. (My sister’s letter appears below.) They are supposed to be hand written and signed.

After becoming part of this group I will be part of the Joslin medalist study. They are trying to determine how some of us long term diabetics can live with diabetes so long and have no complications. They will give me a reimbursement for my travel expenses and provide free lodging in a hotel before my examination. I am anxious to participate.

Here is my sister’s letter. She wrote a very wonderful letter.

August 6, 2009

To: Whom It May Concern

From: Shirley Rhodes

Subject: Richard Vaughn - Living With Diabetes for 62+ Years

"My name is Shirley, and I am Richard Vaughn’s sister. He was diagnosed with Diabetes when he was 6 years old, in the 1940’s. I was only 2 at the time; therefore, I didn’t know much about it, but as I got older, I understood that he had a serious illness. Our mom and dad did not let him do some of the things that other kids his age did, or all he wanted to do. They were afraid that if he got too much exercise, he would go into insulin shock. Part of that fear was due to their lack of knowledge about the disease. I don’t think anyone, not even most doctors, knew much about Diabetes in those days.

I saw my daddy boiling the needles to sterilize them, and sometimes I watched Richard get his shot. I felt so sorry
for him. I used to hide to eat candy because he couldn’t have any. He didn’t let his Diabetes bother him too much, always having a good attitude about it, and still does. He had an interest in a lot of things when he was a kid and did not let his Diabetes interfere any more than he had to. There were times when he didn’t feel well at all and couldn’t do much, but most of the time he was playing, helping on our little farm, and just being a “kid”.

I tagged around after my brother a lot and learned many things from him. To this day, I am still interested in the activities
we took part in when we were growing up, like golfing, fishing, movies, and many other things. I tease him and tell
him that “everything I know, I learned from him”. That means bad habits, too, of course.

Richard made good grades in school but couldn’t participate in all the physical activities that the other children did, which
bothered him some. He felt like he could take part, but he was respectful of our parents, who did not want him to. Mother got notes from his doctor to excuse him from some of those activities.

There were times, especially at night, when I would hear my brother making strange, guttural sounds from his bed. When
that happened, I knew that he was going into shock, and I would wake up our mother. She and Daddy knew what to
do to bring him out of an insulin shock. Those “spells” always scared me so badly, and I guess I was afraid he was going to die.

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As Richard grew up, he learned more and more about how to control his Diabetes and was determined to go to college. He worked his way through his college years and became a very successful college teacher himself, well liked by his students and peers. I am, and always have been, very proud of him. He has had a lot of obstacles to overcome in his life, and today he is enjoying his retirement, along with his wife of 45 years. He has many hobbies and projects that keep him busy. He now has an insulin pump to help to keep his blood sugars regulated, and it has really been a blessing!

Richard is a wonderful person, and brother, and I think he deserves all the good things that life has to offer him.


Shirley Rhodes"

Congrats Richard!!! I also didn’t realize that there is a research aspect to the Joslin Medalist Group.

Again, a big congratulations to you. You are an inspiration to us all!!!

wow Richard. Very nice.
Joslin is one of the top DIabetes research centers in the world. Definitely in the top in the country. They are very positive and upbeat staff and very knowledgeable! I’ve been in some of their studies (to better understand the disease) and it has always been a pleasure to work with them.


Wonderful …there is so much to learn from people like you …You deserve the medal and the study group participation .

You continue to inspire us, Richard!! Thanks for being there!!

Congrats Richard and nice seeing/chatting with you on Diabetes Living :slight_smile:

Thanks so much Brenda, Marps, nel peach, Manny and Karen. I enjoy this wonderful support group and website. It is one of the very best!

Congratulations Richard that is quite a life. I have had it 12 years and consider myself at the end of my whits and have no more energy for the battle anymore. It would be interesting to see what helps survival. Probably a high HDL helps. You wonder if the old pig and cow insulin was better in some ways because it may of contained C-peptide? Let us know what it takes.

Richard, U R remarkable!!! I have had type one for 41 years and am looking forward to the 50 year mark myself… You sister is so kind to write about you: You obviously are STILL very close: How grand!!!
I greatly admire your generosity in continuously sharing your life with us, as you selflessly inform, educate, and inspire.

God Bless,

You are a true inspiration Richard. Congratulations and best wishes!


I certainly hope you receive your just reward. I’ve been T1 for 53 years and gave up trying for all the same reasons. But I don’t even have a surviving relative who could vouch for me.

I thank all of you for your comments!!!

Mark, the Joslin medalists hold a meeting each year to induct new members and get to know each other. I am looking forward to attending the first meeting in 2010.

Anthony, the old pork insulin I took for over 40 years did contain C-peptide. The modern day insulins do NOT. Lily has explored the idea of putting C-peptide in their insulins but that has been discontinued. I hope it happens in the near future.

Brunetta, my sister, Shirley, and I have always been very close. She is not a diabetric but she has physical problems that prevent her from travelling to visit us. It is a 10 hour drive for my wife and me to visit her. I see her every other year.

Gordie, letters sent to Joslin to verify the length of time you have been diabetic do not have to come from relatives. Close friends or school mates from back then suffice. There are medalists who had old friends write letters and they are now part of the Joslin Medalist group. If you have a couple of friends who will write letters for you and you are interested in pursuing this then let me know and I will give you details on how to proceed.

That is so very interesting, Anthony. I too, am relatively complication free at 41 years diabetic. I took pork and beef insulin for at least 10-15 years, maybe more; and My latest HDL was 124, very high ( this is NOT a typo)… I did not know those factors played into long-term health with Type one diabetes… HMMM

God Bless,

Congratulations Richard, that is a milestone for sure, please keep us updated on your progress with them.

Congratulations:) so glad you are with us.

That is really a good HDL mine is 40 which is not good. The absence of C-peptide in bacteria made insulins may be killing us needlessly.


That is just awesome, congratulations! On top of what everyone else has said, you also have a pretty wonderful sister.

I hope that as a diabetic approaching my 36th anniversary, you will continue to be ahead of me.

Fair Winds,

Congratulations, Richard, and welcome to the Joslin club. I am sure they will approve you! I had similar problems with documentation, but found a faded and crinkled carbon copy of a letter from the hospital where I was being treated in 1946, and that did the trick! BTW the Joslin medalist program now also has a web site. I believe it is still under development, but some interesting findings are beginning to emerge.

Hello Olaf, it is nice to see you again! I have seen that website and you are right, it is still being developed. I am anxious to be part of the group being examined in the Joslin medalist study. Did you participate in that study too? If so, how was it? How long did it take after you got there? Thanks for your comments.