We are saddened this morning on hearing confirmation of the death of Dr. Rodney K. Beals, M.D., graduate of the University of Oregon Medical School (Class of 1956) and professor emeritus in the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation.
Dr. Beals died of leukemia, which he had been battling for some time. His illness gave us pause when considering him for an oral history interview this summer, but Dr. Beals was adamant that he had the strength and stamina to do it. And did he ever! After three hours of interviewing, he was still going strong even as the crew was flagging. He completed edits to the bulk of the interview transcript just a few weeks ago and had already sent them to us for final corrections.
A short obituary for Dr. Beals was published in this morning's Oregonian. In an announcement to the community, School of Medicine Dean Mark Richardson gave a precis of Beals' career:
Dr. Beals’ long relationship with the OHSU School of Medicine spanned five decades. He served as Head of the Division of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation within the Department of Surgery from 1981 to 1994, and was a Professor in the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation when it was established in 1994. Dr. Beals was an active clinician, researcher and teacher until his retirement this year.A kind and personable man with a passion for medicine and the history of orthopedics in Oregon, Dr. Beals will be greatly missed.
A graduate of Willamette University, Dr. Beals received his MD degree from the University of Oregon Medical School (the precursor to the OHSU School of Medicine) and interned at Minneapolis General Hospital before completing residencies at San Bernadino County Hospital and at OHSU.
He was nationally-recognized for his research on skeletal manifestations of dwarfing conditions and was widely published, with over 150 articles and other publications. His clinical and research activities were closely interwoven. He collaborated through much of his career with pediatrician and medical geneticist Dr. Frederick Hecht. Dr. Beals often related how their meeting was the consequence of an enduring academic challenge – scarce lab space. As neighbors in the same lab each became interested in the work of the other. Among other outcomes, they unraveled the genetic basis for two muscular disorders which, today are named after their professional partnership. Beals Syndrome, named for Dr. Beals alone and the third to bear his name in honor of his defining work, is an inherited disorder where certain joints are permanently fixed in a flexed position.