In Memoriam: Robert Kane 1940 - 2017
Bob Kane, who in 2009 was awarded the BGS Medal for the Relief of Suffering Among the Aged, died suddenly on the 6th March 2017 in Minneapolis.
Bob was a giant among geriatricians and those caring for older people and chronic disabilities. He had major influence in the US and here in the UK where he had many friends who will miss him, his generosity and supportive friendship.
Bob was borne in 1940 and trained at Harvard and Kentucky and went on to be Professor in the Department of Medicine UCLA and then Dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota and then held the Minnesota Chair in Long Term Care and Ageing until the day he died. He had worked with many prestigious organisations across the world including the WHO, the Rand Corporation and the London School of Economics.
Bob had the rare combination of both a fine analytical and a creative mind - to have attended one of his tutorials when reviewing a published paper was a life changing event. His passion to help those disadvantaged and disabled was always tempered by his pursuit of excellence both in himself and others. He published over 500 papers and wrote 33 books, many of these with Rosalie, his wife of 54 years, herself a Professor of Social Care at the University of Minnesota. His research focussed on long term care, its quality and how to improve it but his medical interests were far ranging including clinical assessment, management and funding of care homes and the training of doctors. He mentored many and and took pride in their success. He was working on reinventing long term care until the moment of his death.
Bob was always good company. He had a wry and witty sense of humour and an alarming chuckle. His interests in literature, music and the stage never left him short of something to talk about and gave his work a depth of human insight. He was immensely proud of his three daughters and eight grandchildren. He himself was physically disabled in the last decade of his life, something he managed with determination, dignity and a streak of stubbornness.
Bob’s legacy is many fold but two stand out. The first was never to take something at face value, do not accept it until you truly understand it. The second was his ability to manage the tension between the care of the individual and the care of the population that underpins the concepts of social and clinical justice which were so close to Bob’s heart and his life’s work.