As a doctor, Doyle John Borchers III loved helping people, people others might have written off. As a man, Borchers loved life and everything that came with it.
"He had a passion for life and his family," Borchers' wife, Michele, said. "He adored me and his children."
The 41-year-old neurosurgeon and clinical instructor at Stanford University Medical Center also had a passion for flying. He died last Friday when his small plane crashed near Lake Tahoe, just east of the California-Nevada border.
The Palo Alto resident came by this passion naturally, his family members recalled.
"He started flying a little over a year ago," his father, Doyle John Borchers II, said. The elder Borchers had been a captain in the U.S. Navy and had worked as a test pilot.
"He had always looked at what I had done in the Navy and wanted to try it, and he was good at. It was something wonderful that we could share."
Borchers seemed to have come by many things naturally.
"The amazing thing about him was that when he looked at something he could assimilate it almost instantaneously," his father said.
While he loved his work, adventure and excitement, it was his family who sustained him.
"He was very kind and loved his family," his father said. "His children were his pride and joy."
"He was just amazed by them and everything they did," Michele Borchers said.
When Borchers was a child, his father moved the family with each new Navy posting.
"For so many years of his childhood I was away," his father said, "and that came at a price. I think he appreciated that so much that, when his own family came along, he made the decision to work in a much less high-pressure environment so he could spend more time with his family."
This, according to Michele Borchers, was why the family moved to Palo Alto. His neurosurgery position at Stanford afforded him the time to be at home, help his kids with their homework, teach them how to drive and take them on the occasional late-night trip to Great America to catch a couple of rides before closing time.
"He was their hero," Michele Borchers said. "The children just wanted to emulate his love of life and his adventurous spirit."
His son, Adam, has shared his love of helping people and is currently in Paraguay building latrines in a small, remote village. On the morning of his death, Borchers read the most recent letter from Adam, which began, "This is your son reporting from the heart of South America" and ended with "You are my hero."
According to both Borchers' wife and father, that hero-status was well-deserved.
"There are people walking around today because of him," the elder Borchers said, "people who had suffered massive trauma, who other neurosurgeons had written off."
Working at Stanford with Dr. John Adler, Borchers researched the neurological origins of addiction.
"Dr. Borchers was interested in learning how to treat addiction now that we know more about the brain circuitry that underlies the condition," Adler said.
"My interaction with him was refreshing and arguably some of the most intellectually lively research I've been able to do in my academic career," Adler said.
"He accomplished so much in just 41 years," Michele Borchers said. "I truly believed that he would win the Nobel Prize."
"He had everything to live for," she added, "and our lives were truly enmeshed. We made it through better and worse, sickness and health, richer and poorer; we made it through all these times."
Borchers is survived by his wife, Michele; his three children, Adam, Grace and Lauren; his sister, Wendy Muendler; and his father, Doyle John Borchers II.
A memorial service has been scheduled for Aug. 21 from 6-8 p.m. at the Stanford Faculty Club.