Cincinnati Children's Blog

In Memoriam: William Kuenneth Schubert, MD

The Cincinnati Children’s community suffered a great loss this past weekend with the death of Dr. Bill Schubert. Dr. Schubert’s legacy is one of compassionate medicine, forward thinking and exceptional leadership. Cincinnati Children’s won’t be the same without him.

The following feature was written by Cindy Duesing, a member of the internal communications team here at Cincinnati Children’s and was first published on the employee intranet. We invite you to take part in remembering Dr. Schubert by commenting below.

William Kuenneth Schubert, MD, died on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012.

These few stark words can’t begin to contain the enormity of the man – his leadership, his brilliance, his integrity, compassion and sense of humor – or the loss to his family, to Cincinnati Children’s and the community as a whole.

Schubert examines a patient in the Clinical Research Center (1977).

He was a gentle physician, a wise mentor and a pioneer. He was quiet and unassuming, but he always listened with thoughtful consideration and asked the important questions. His impact as a husband, father and friend is immeasurable. His work as a physician, researcher and advocate for children make him revered and beloved by all.

Schubert was born in Cincinnati, OH, on July 12, 1926, to Wilfred and Amanda Schubert. He was the oldest of three boys (his brothers were Robert and James). After graduating from Walnut Hills High School in 1944, he enrolled at the University of Cincinnati, intending to study medicine. His time there was cut short when he was drafted into the Navy later that year.

Following his military service, he returned to UC, entering the School of Medicine in 1949 and graduating in 1952.

Schubert began his residency in pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s in 1953. From 1956 to 1963, he was in private practice. During this time, he also served as an instructor to pediatricians at the UC College of Medicine and as a senior research associate at the Children’s Hospital Research Foundation. In 1963, he left private practice and joined Cincinnati Children’s faculty as an associate professor of pediatrics and director of the Clinical Research Center.

The line of succession: Schubert, who was the second president and CEO of Cincinnati Children’s, poses with Michael Fisher (center) and Jim Anderson, numbers 4 and 3 respectively.

He established the Division of Gastroenterology in 1968 (only the second pediatric gastroenterology division in the US) and went on to hold nearly every major leadership position at the medical center, including chief of staff, director of the pediatric residency program, chairman of Pediatrics, and in 1983, president and CEO. After he retired in 1996, he continued to serve on the board of trustees.

Schubert played a key role in expanding the Hamilton County Indigent Care Tax Levy, which guaranteed access to quality care for children, regardless of the family’s ability to pay. Under his leadership, a new research building and patient care tower (Location B) and the medical center’s first neighborhood location (in Mason) were completed. His emphasis on research attracted scientific experts who produced significant advances in endocrinology, infectious diseases, critical care, cardiology and genetics.

Says John Hutton, MD, vice president and director, Biomedical Informatics, “When I came to Cincinnati Children’s in the early 1980s, the hospital, in many ways, had already peaked in the ’30s and ’40s and was going through some difficult times. But the early ’80s were greatly significant. As president and CEO, Bill felt strongly about the importance of research. He recruited with the intent of building our research focus. During his tenure, Cincinnati Children’s really made the transition that led to its becoming the great institution it is today.”

Keeping it in the family — Schubert was present when nephew Chuck Schubert, MD, professor, Emergency Medicine, won the Jefferson Award at Cincinnati Children’s in 2010.

Often called “the pediatrician’s pediatrician” or “the grand statesman of pediatrics,” Schubert received numerous honors over the length of his career. These include the William Cooper Procter Medal (1990), the Daniel Drake Award (1991), the Murray Davidson Award of the National AAP Section on Gastroenterology and Nutrition (2003), and the Lifetime

Hero Award from the Cincinnati Business Courier (2003). In 2004, the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce named him a Great Living Cincinnatian. Most recently, Junior Achievement of Greater Cincinnati inducted him into its Business Hall of Fame (2011).

Schubert is survived by Mary, his wife of 63 years; daughters Carol, Joanne, Barbara and Nancy, and five grandchildren.

A private funeral service for family and friends is planned for Saturday, March 3. A memorial service will be held at Cincinnati Children’s at a date to be announced. The family requests that memorials be made to Cincinnati Children’s.


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