Robert M. Goldwyn, M.D.
1930 - 2010
Dr. Robert M. Goldwyn died on March 23rd 2010 after a long and courageous 16 year battle with prostate cancer. He was 79. It is difficult to capture the essence of a man like Dr. Goldwyn in the written word because he was so much more than words can describe.
Dr. Goldwyn was the son of a psychiatrist and was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. His scholarly nature and academic achievement lead him to Harvard College and later to Harvard Medical School. His surgical training was completed at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and later plastic surgery residency at the University of Pittsburgh under Dr. William White.
Dr. Goldwyn earned many honors during his career. Some of these were based upon his leadership, some based upon his scholarship and some upon his abilities as a teacher. All had in common the widely recognized respect and love which was held by all who were privileged to know him. He was always curious about the human condition and treated all people with dignity.
In 1979 Dr. Goldwyn took over as editor-in-chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, a position he held for a record 25 years. During this period students of plastic surgery both nationally and internationally were exposed to his scholarly scrutiny, intellectual depth, wit, and humanism. These attributes helped the journal expand in size and circulation and nurtured the growth and respect of plastic surgery as an important surgical field. No one has played a greater role is this regard than Dr. Goldwyn.
The essence of Dr. Goldwyn was poignantly demonstrated by his appreciation of history and his establishment in 1972 of the National Archives of Plastic Surgery at the Countway Library at Harvard Medical School. This work has made it possible for students of plastic surgery the world over to have a valuable repository of accurate historical data available for scholarly pursuits. Dr. Goldwyn also loved The American Association of Plastic Surgeons and always considered it an honor to have been elected to membership. He served The Association in many roles and offices including his Presidency in 1994.
Whether it be as a visiting professor, a teacher of medical students, an advisor of colleagues, or in his prolific writings, one was always struck by his humility, wisdom and courage to say the right thing whether it was a popular view or not. This quality was born out of an unusual degree of honesty, intelligence and self confidence and allowed him to write about "taboo" subjects such as "The Unfavorable Result in Plastic Surgery" at a time when most authors were trying to show only their best results. When one read one of Dr. Goldwyn's many valuable and witty editorials, often one would think, "I have often thought or seen that, but never put pen to paper"......he could and did. He was a giant in plastic surgical education...a term he would find unrecognizable.
As a surgeon Dr. Goldwyn appreciated the power and limitations of plastic surgery. He made his patients feel better about themselves partly through his considerable skill as a surgeon and partly by their recognition that he cared about them as individuals. He treated all people the same 'with profound respect and humanism.
Dr. Goldwyn was a loving husband and father. He is survived by his devoted and caring wife, Tanya , four children and six grand children.
Dr. Robert M. Goldwyn made us all proud to be plastic surgeons. Thank you for all you have given us in your words and deeds and for being the exemplary human being that we all aspire to be.
James W. May Jr., MD