Oct 15, 2017

Robert J. Gumnit, MD

* Past President

In Memoriam

Robert Jerome Gumnit, MD, of Orono, MN, passed away on October 15, 2017, at the age of 86 while at his Rio Chama home north of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Acclaimed and beloved epileptologist (neurologist) ABCN, ABPN, book author, mentor, scientist, public health advocate, professor, researcher, advisor, charismatic leader. Retired president, MINCEP Epilepsy Care, (4th level seizure care) Minneapolis, MN. Authored 1991 the phrase, "Our Goal: No seizures no side effects."

A pioneer of modern comprehensive epilepsy care; leading creator of the model for comprehensive epilepsy care. Designed stages of care methodology used in CDC guidelines after years advocating better care for seizure patients. With a rare ability to understand organization and social groups he combined scientific ability and clinical acumen.

The son of immigrants forced to flee their homelands, he remained committed to improving the life of others throughout his life. Born July 4, 1931, to Sara (Slutsky) and Herman P Gumnit in Pittsburgh PA, he was raised in Philadelphia, PA, growing up at the orphanage his father supervised. Predeceased by sister, Clare (1954), parents, and first wife of 26 years, Grace (Lotke) (d.1984). Loving and beloved husband of Frances Hagberg Graham, wife of 32 years. Also, survived by children Daniel, Ruth, and Stephen, cousin Renee Zenker, and brothers-in-law Robert (Susan) Hagberg and Carlton (Marie) Hagberg. Beloved uncle of Kai Hagberg, Tessa (Jeff) Walter (Brynn and Luca), Alison (Deytr) Francisco, Andrew (Danielle) Hagberg (Ahren). Beloved by Hagberg, Werner, Dalhaus extended families.

Active in numerous societies, institutions, boards (e.g., EFA, NEL), governmental consulting and commissions (President's Commission for the Control of Epilepsy) including President, American Epilepsy Society 1981, President, American Electroencephalographic Society 1983, American Neurological Association, Fellow, American Academy of Neurology. His great legacy is the National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC) he founded in 1987 serving as president for 25 years while nurturing others to become leaders. His published research at age 28 showed creativity and originality of thought. Authored books, chapters, and more than 100 peer-reviewed full papers and numerous abstracts. He culminated his career seeking to assure that scientific advances in care could in fact be available to patients through appropriate systemic organization and reimbursement. St. Paul Chamber Orchestra Bd member 1966-76, 77-80, 84-90, treasurer 1985-90. Avid sailor and horseman. Graduated Central High School, Philadelphia 1949, BA High Honors, Swarthmore College, 1953 Phi Beta Kappa, influenced by, and teaching assistant for, Wolfgang Koehler, acclaimed German psychologist (perception), Swarthmore College. Graduated 1957 University of Pennsylvania Medical School recipient of Clark Founders Prize; served in US Public Health Service NIMHNIH; numerous clinical positions, intern at Uof IL, Chicago, associate in physiology, GW University School of Medicine, 1959-61; LCdr. US Public Health Service, active 1958-61, Reserve 1961-2008 (CAPT); Clinical Assoc. Electroencephalography NINDB 1960-61 and Clinical Neuropharmacology NIMH 1958-60, Sr. Neurol. Fellow, Univ. of Iowa 1961-64, Professor, Univ. of MN 1964-86; clinical professor neurology, pharmacy and neurosurgery, 1986 to 2013, Director Minnesota Comprehensive Epilepsy Program, and Epilepsy Research Center, Univ. of MN, 1974-97; numerous hospital administrative, staff roles including Director Neurol. Dept., St. Paul Ramsey Hospital (1964-1982); Medical Dir. and Chair of Bd., St. Paul Ramsey; Head, Dept. of Neurology Gillette Children's Hospital 1979-98; Dir. Epilepsy Program, Dept. of Neurosciences, Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Mpls, MN 1986-2012. Principal investigator NIH grants, 1971-2004; President, MINCEP Epilepsy Care, Minnesota Comprehensive Epilepsy Program 1986-2012. Ambassador for Epilepsy, Epilepsy International, 1980, devoted to improving life for patients with epilepsy.