Houston lived for years in a quiet spot off Ledge Road in Burlington's South End, where he would regale a group of friends as large as it was diverse, from medical colleagues and students to King Street Youth Center teens and the keyboard player from Phish. He was a one-time director of the Peace Corps in India and of the Medical Peace Corps in Washington, D.C., before moving to Burlington in 1966 to join UVM's medical school. Sometimes called the "father of high-altitude medicine," Houston was an expert on pulmonary edema, hypoxia and the effects of altitude and the resulting diminished oxygen. His expertise stemmed from personal experience. In 1935, his first year of medical school at Columbia near his childhood home, Houston asked the dean if he could skip the last six week of classes to hike in the Himalayas. The dean obliged, and when Houston again returned the following year, he reached the summit of Nanda Devi, a 25,645-foot mountain in India. At the time, it was the highest mountain ever climbed -- a record that would stand until a 1950 ascent of Annapurna in Nepal.