Autism advocate inspired with vision, leadership
By Rosemarie Bernardo / email@example.com
Dr. William “Bill” M. Bolman, a well-respected expert on autism, pushed to raise awareness of the disorder and of the need for more treatment and insurance coverage for patients.
Bolman, co-founder of the Autism Society of Hawaii, died in Honolulu on April 18. He was 84.
Until his last days Bolman served as president of the society, continued to see patients and testified at the state Legislature in support of a measure to provide insurance coverage for screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism.
Dr. Ryan Lee, newly elected president of the Autism Society, said, “His kindness and vision to see what could be possible in the field of autism was very inspiring to me.”
“We are trying to continue his legacy through the Autism Society of Hawaii,” he said. “His impact to the community was enormous.”
Louis Erteschik, executive director of the Hawaii Disability Rights Center, said Bolman was a beloved figure and considered a patriarch to many psychiatrists. “He pretty much taught all of the psychiatrists in town,” Erteschik said.
Family members and colleagues said he would be best remembered for his commitment to treating children with autism, medical professionals he taught and his tireless work with autism. “He was just the best,” Erteschik said.
Born in Elyria, Ohio, and raised in Gloversville, N.Y., Bolman graduated from Harvard College in 1951 and Harvard Medical School in 1955. He earned a master’s degree in public health, specializing in child psychiatry and developing an expertise in autism.
Bolman completed his residency at Massachusetts Memorial Hospital in Boston and Boston City Hospital. While in the Army, he served at Tripler Army Medical Center before returning to Massachusetts. He worked in various cities before he returned to Honolulu.
Bolman served as a consultant to the World Health Organization and National Institute of Mental Health as well as state health departments and organizations. He also was a teaching fellow at Tufts University and Boston University and served as a professor at the University of Wisconsin and University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine.
Bolman was a lifetime fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the World Federation for Mental Health and the Royal Society for Public Health. His contributions to the community include helping to establish the ‘Imi Ho‘ola program that supports disadvantaged students at JABSOM.
Bolman’s wife of 33 years, Victoria Asayama, described her husband as a humble gentleman who wanted to help others and the community on a daily basis. “He was just a giving soul,” she said.
Bolman is also survived by daughters Dr. Susan Garrison Bolman and Elizabeth Stinette Bolman, nephews and nieces.
A celebration of life for Bolman will be held May 31 at Nuuanu Memorial Park and Mortuary. Visitation starts at 10 a.m. with service to follow at 11 a.m. Lei and personal notes are welcome. Donations to the Autism Society of Hawaii are suggested.