December 14, 1941 – December 18, 2012
Robert Graham Gitchell, MD, of Ames, died of acute respiratory distress syndrome following a battle with cancer on December 18, 2012, at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames. A memorial service will be held Friday, December 21, at 2:30 at Temple B’nai Jeshurun, 5101 Grand Avenue in Des Moines. Shiva services will also be held on Saturday, December 22 at 6pm, at Temple B’nai Jeshurun, and on Sunday, December 23 at 6pm, at the Ames Jewish Congregation (3721 Calhoun Avenue, Ames).
Bob was born December 14, 1941, in Cresco, IA, son of Lester Graham Gitchell, DDS, and Josephine June (Flower) Gitchell. He excelled in academics, athletics and student leadership, and matriculated at the University of Iowa in 1960 for his undergraduate and medical school training through 1967. He interned at LA County Hospital and then returned to Iowa for his residency in orthopedic surgery. He then served as a Major at the US Air Force Academy for two years before coming to the McFarland Clinic in Ames where he practiced for over 30 years until his retirement in 2004. He was instrumental in many of the decisions that contributed to the McFarland Clinic’s growth, but mostly he cherished healing patients. His work required use of titanium, hammers and cement, but his patients always remarked about his bedside manner and his ability to care for them beyond just their bones and joints.
It was during college that he met the love of his life, Deborah Ziffren Gitchell, and they were married in 1965. Together, they raised two children (Joe and Sarah) and were blessed with two more “children” in the spouses, Elizabeth Mumford and Gary Dorfman. He adored his four granddaughters (Hilda and Carmen Gitchell; Rose and Lily Dorfman), and enjoyed family time together in Ames, on the East Coast where his children now live, and in other locations. He is also survived by his sister, Mary Jo (Chuck) Horner.
Outside of his profession and family life, Bob made time to continue to excel in athletics as a top state amateur golfer over decades, winning the Iowa Masters both in the Open division and later as a Senior, and to revel as a fan of athletics. He also gave generously of his time to a range of volunteer activities, often in partnership with Debbie. He co-taught an honors seminar at Iowa State University on Art, Healing, Medicine and the Creative Spirit. Other activities included leadership positions with the Ames Jewish Congregation, Temple B’nai Jeshurun, the Iowa Jewish Life Center, the Friends of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the Iowa Medical Society, and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons’ Board of Councilors. His involvement with the medical associations largely supported their government affairs work. As an individual, he was passionate about and heavily involved in Democratic politics, and was a proud and staunch advocate of health care reform.
Bob had been serving as president of Temple B’nai Jeshurun over the past couple of years and two of his favorite efforts were the Temple’s improvement plans and its camp scholarship fund. In addition, he experienced exemplary care at Mary Greeley Medical Center. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in memory of Bob to Temple B’nai Jeshurun or to the expansion campaign at Mary Greeley (http://www.mgmc.org/extraordinary-visions/).
Arrangements by Iles Funeral Homes ~ Dunn’s Funeral Home.Information provided by: Iles Funeral Homes Dunn’s Chapel 2121 Grand Ave Des Moines, IA 50312 www.ilesfuneralhomes.com