Friday, August 15, 2008

In memoriam: Rodney K. Beals, MD, 1931-2008

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 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.
A kind and personable man with a passion for medicine and the history of orthopedics in Oregon, Dr. Beals will be greatly missed.


KKudna said...

I have been a patient of Dr. Beals for most of my lifetime. As a child, he scared the wits out of me even though he was gentle and a sweet man. I was just not used to a man of his size examining me, most of my doctors were a lot shorter. However as I grew older I trusted him with everything I had, no more being scared as I placed my trust in him as he did a bilateral hip replacement on me at a very tender age of 22. I still have those original hips, 13 years later and they have not given me one ounce of trouble. He was a remarkable doctor who will be missed terribly, I am thankful to have had him as my orthopedic surgeon for over 25 years. God bless the family of this remarkable human.

Alena said...

Today was a different day. As I walked threw the halls of OHSU as i have many many times in this 25 years on earth i was sadend by the thought that nothing here will EVER be the same. You see, Dr. beals has given me the chance to be a "normal" child, to be an "outgoing" adult. I have been his patient for 24 years. I have CP you see, Dr beals was not only My Dr, but that person that would make things all better.. and that he did! he has given me my life back and my parents a smile on their face! I dont know if that feeling will ever come back with another dr. but to you Dr. beals.. just want to say Thank you! my u fly with the angels in heaven as u belong! Because you sure were one on earth! *Alena W*

Jaxine Volner said...

I am sadened by the discovery of this news today. Dr Rodney Beals was my orthopedic surgeon after an ATV accident left me with 4" bone loss. He suggested the Ilizarov aparetus to stretch my bone as opposed to a bone graph using the bone from a cadaver.
Dr Beals was a very pleasant man who was soft spoken and humorous. He cared about his patients. 10 years after the removal of my external fixator, I was quite surprised to receive a call from OHSU, Dr Beals wanted to know if I would like to come see him so he could just take a look at how I was doing. No charge, he jyst wants to see the long term results and how Im doing. I was truly touched and amazed. We had a wonderful visit. Not many Drs I know of would do that. I am sure many people will miss this very caring Dr and friend who contributed much to his field of expertise. Rest in peace Rodney Kennith Beals!
Jaxine Volner