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February 2013

In Memoriam: Dewey K. Ziegler, MD (1920-2012)

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Neurology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City (Dr Barohn); and Neurological Institute, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York (Dr Rowland).

JAMA Neurol. 2013;70(2):269. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2013.1206

Dewey K. Ziegler, MD, led the Section of Neurology at the University of Kansas from 1966 until it became the Department of Neurology in 1974, where he became the founding department chairman until 1985; he became professor emeritus in 1990. He was one of the first specialists in headache neurology and was an inspirational leader as a physician, neurologist, and world citizen. He was among the neurologists who established neurology as an independent field, rather than a subsidiary of either internal medicine or psychiatry. Indeed, he and his generation of neurologists who trained in New York and Boston then spanned across the nation to create departments of neurology from coast to coast.

Dewey K. Ziegler, MD

Ziegler was known for his soothing treatment of patients, medical students, residents in training, and members of his faculty. He had extensive training for his multifaceted career. Born in Omaha, Nebraska, he went east to Harvard College and graduated magna cum laude (1941); he then went to Harvard Medical School (1941-1945). He interned in medicine at the Boston City Hospital in 1945-1946, receiving neurology training from Derek Denny-Brown, MD. After 4 months in neurology, his residency training was interrupted by World War II service in the Navy—first in Bethesda, then in San Diego (1946-1948). He then went to the New York Neurological Institute at the Columbia University Medical Center (1948-1951) to resume neurology training under H. Houston Merritt, MD, who appointed Ziegler as chief resident in 1950-1951. Among his fellow trainees were the late Leonard Berg, MD, Robert A. Fishman, MD, Sid Gilman, MD, Donald H. Harter, MD, Christian Herrmann, MD, T. R. Johns, MD, Audrey S. Penn, MD, Lewis P. Rowland, MD, Frank Yatsu, MD, and neurosurgeon Bernard Susman, MD.

In 1951-1953, Ziegler trained as a resident in psychiatry at the Boston Psychopathic Hospital (later the Massachusetts Mental Health Center). There followed a series of appointments in neurology—first at Montefiore Hospital (1953-1955), where the staff included Tiffany Lawyer, MD, Seymour Solomon, MD, and Rowland. At the time, Montefiore had an active Headache Clinic that was founded by Arnold Friedman, MD. In 1955-1958, Ziegler returned to the Midwest to serve as assistant professor of neurology at the University of Minnesota.

In 1958, he moved to Kansas City with his wife Gertrude, a Kansas City native. Here, his 50-year connection with the University of Kansas Medical Center began. In Kansas City, he initiated a neurology residency program, training hundreds of residents and thousands of medical students, and he recruited neurologists such as Art Dick, MD, Lou Giron, MD, and Barry Festoff, MD, who remain on the faculty. Ziegler put Kansas City on the neurology map in the United States. He published one of the earliest articles demonstrating the effectiveness of treatment with tricyclic antidepressants for the prevention of migraine. He was an internationally respected physician in the field of headache. Even after he stepped down as chair in 1985, he had an extremely busy clinical practice; he was actively seeing patients as well as teaching and writing at the University of Kansas Medical Center until quite recently. When he died at the age of 92 years, he was still on the faculty at the University of Kansas Medical Center, and his periodic visits to his office were always a time of delight to the faculty and staff.

Ziegler also had broader interests beyond neurology. As an undergraduate, he majored in English literature and read widely and deeply for the rest of his life. He remained an avid reader; while undergoing treatment for chronic congestive heart disease, he could be found in the hospital reading “Tom Jones” by Henry Fielding, “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas, or “The Metaphysical Club” by Louis Menand.

Ziegler's leadership qualities were recognized, serving as president of the American Association of Neurology, vice president of the American Neurological Association, and a member of the board of directors of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (1975-1983). He was so-called doubly boarded as a diplomate of both neurology and psychiatry. He was an editor of the journals Headache and Cephalalgia. Among his own papers, 150 were on diverse clinical subjects, especially migraine and other types of headache; 35 were invited reviews.

Ziegler was adored by his patients and was a role model to all health care professionals and to the public nonmedical community. He weathered the 1995 death of his wife, Trudy, after 41 years of marriage; he is survived by 3 daughters, Amy, Sara, and Laura, as well as 7 grandchildren.

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Article Information

Correspondence: Dr Barohn, Department of Neurology, University of Kansas Medical Center, 3599 Rainbow Blvd, Kansas City, KS 66160 (rbarohn@kumc.edu).

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.