Home > Miscellaneous > A Tribute To A Pioneer And A Hero: Dr. Robert N. Butler 1927-2010

A Tribute To A Pioneer And A Hero: Dr. Robert N. Butler 1927-2010

Josh Tapper, a fellow of News21, a national initiative to promote innovation in journalism, at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism wrote about his last conversation and interview with Dr. Robert N. Butler just days before he died on July 4th. However, it was a last phone conversation that did not happen that moved me. It was described in a response to an obituary published in the LA Times written by his grandson, Brooks J. Hall. He had missed the call from Dr. Robert N. Butler just days before his death and Mr. Hall described the voice message as, “Hey kiddo, I hope you are well and just wanted to tell you I love ya.” After reading the response article, it became apparent that Dr. Butler was also a wonderful grandfather in addition to his lifetime achievements in the area of aging.

It was he who in 1968 coined the phrase “ageism” in describing discrimination against the elderly and how it still plagues American society, and how the lack of primary care doctors spells trouble for aging baby boomers. Dr. Butler was a physician, gerontologist, psychiatrist, and Pulitzer-winning author, who was the first director of the National Institute on Aging. Butler is known for his work on the social needs and the rights of the elderly and for his research on healthy aging and the dementias. Having grown up with his grandparents, Butler was shocked by the dismissive and contemptuous attitude toward the elderly and their diseases by many of his teachers at medical school, an attitude that no doubt led to his career and dedication to the issue. Days before his death, he was still putting in 60-hour workweeks as the founder and C.E.O. of the International Longevity Center in New York.

elderly sign by *stephyPHOTOG on deviantART

In Tapper’s final interview with Dr. Butler, he “cautioned that old age shouldn’t be taken for granted or romanticized.”  However, Dr. Butler also reflected on the joys of aging, and said that he “still found fulfillment in his writing and advocacy.” He also said he had “been tempered by the years,” and he “doesn’t blow his stack as much,” He also shared that he “didn’t have the tempestuousness he had 40 years ago.” I believe Dr. Butler was a pioneer, a grandfather, and loved by many.

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About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

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