It is with great sadness that I share news of the passing of Dr. Richard Kerber, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine. After a short illness, he died at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics on Tuesday, November 8. He was 77. For more than 45 years, Dr. Kerber dedicated himself to the University of Iowa, demonstrating a loyalty to and belief in this institution’s mission rarely found in others. We have not only lost one of the finest academic physicians, deeply respected within our institution and across the country, but we have lost a wonderful colleague who could inspire and make us laugh. We have lost a dear friend. We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to his wife, Linda, and their sons, Ross and Justin.
Dr. Kerber received his undergraduate degree in Anthropology from Columbia University and his medical degree from New York University in 1964. After an internship and completing part of his residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, Dr. Kerber joined the US Army Medical Corps and served two years as a Captain in a MASH unit in Vietnam, earning the Bronze Star in 1968. Upon his return, he completed his residency and a Cardiology Fellowship at Stanford University Hospital by 1971. It was this same year that he joined the University of Iowa and rose through the ranks, becoming a Professor by 1978 and then Director of Echocardiography. For nearly thirty years he served as Associate Director of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, only leaving the position to serve as Interim Director of the division from 2009-2012. As a researcher with a focus on cardiac resuscitation, he had few peers, authoring more than 250 articles, two books, more than 330 abstracts, and dozens of chapters of books. His stature in the field was recognized among other honors by his election to the American Association of Physicians in 1988. His influence on cardiovascular research and clinical innovation will be felt for years to come. Dick was similarly dedicated to our educational mission, serving as Director of the Cardiology Fellowship Program for 17 years, and regularly earning teaching awards, including the Ernest O. Theilen Clinical Teaching and Service Award in 2013.
Many of our faculty received invaluable and lifelong mentorship from him. We have asked colleagues who knew him well to share remembrances in their own words.
Dr. Paul Lindower, Clinical Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine
I appreciate having had the opportunity to work with Dick as a mentor both when I was a fellow in his laboratory in 1994 and again when I returned to the University of Iowa from private practice in 2002. Dick was a wonderfully accepting and nurturing influence on my career in cardiovascular disease and echocardiography. I will miss him very much.
Dr. Mark Anderson, Director of the Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University
Dick Kerber warmly welcomed our family to Iowa City in 2005. He and Linda ran a salon in their home where they presided over topics referent to their many talents and interests: academic medicine, history, politics, art, music, food and wine – to name a few. I used Dick as a sounding board and relied on his advice for some of the most challenging issues I faced as division director and as chair. Because of these attributes, I rested soundly as chair with Dick leading the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine for 3 years, prior to the recruitment of Dr. London. Surprisingly, it was after I left Iowa that the full power of Dick’s reputation and his many accomplishments became clear to me. Repeatedly, now senior faculty at various and leading institutions relate how Dick mentored them in national scientific organizations, in career choice and in the intricacies of echocardiography and resuscitation. I am proud and fortunate to call Linda and Dick friends and sorry for a great loss to future learners who will not be advantaged by his teaching and mentoring.
Dr. Don Heistad, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine
We lived next-door to Dick for many years. Linda and Dick tried so hard to keep up the house and gardens the way Lew January had maintained them. It was a challenge, but they did well!
Dick was a pioneer in using echo to study experimental myocardial infarction. He made enormous contributions in that area. He then shifted to studies of CPR, and again published novel and important work.
Dick was President of the American Society of Echocardiography. That was fitting recognition of his pioneering role in echo.
For decades, Dick was responsible for the Cardiology Fellowship training program. It is an important job, and Dick did a great job. (Doing a great job obviously is a recurring theme in Dick’s life). In addition to providing stellar guidance for fellows, Joe Hill and Dick published a paper in Circulation addressing important aspects of Academic Cardiology Training Programs, based on their experience with our program.
Dick was a wonderful friend, cardiologist, and teacher. I will miss him so very much.
Dr. Kevin Dellsperger, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Augusta University
He touched Iowa Cardiologists for 45 years. He helped start ASE, and ECC was his passion and a major foundation of his career. I was fortunate to learn from him, work with him, and call him my friend!