NORMAN — Roger Alan Brumback, 65, along with his beloved wife, Mary Helen, was tragically killed in Omaha, Neb., in May 2013.
Roger Brumback was born in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 15, 1948, to Frances and Oscar Brumback and later grew up in Monroeville, Penn., where he lettered in swimming at Gateway Senior High School. After school, Roger could be found delivering the Pittsburgh Press or mowing yards in the neighborhood. During his leisure, Roger enjoyed playing chess and tennis with his friends.
After earning his diploma in 1965, he attended Pennsylvania State University where, after a combination of advanced placement credits, a heavy course load and yearround attendance, he earned in only two years a B.S. in pre-med and met his future wife, Mary Skinner, who was studying pharmacology. Thus at age 19, Roger was accepted into and became the youngest member of the inaugural class at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in Hershey, Penn.
After medical school graduation in 1971, Dr. Brumback served as a pediatric resident at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore for two years, followed by an additional training in pediatric neurology at Washington University in St. Louis, where he did his residency at Barnes Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
In lieu of the draft, Roger — as a medical student — obtained a military deferment through the U.S. Public Health Service that allowed Roger to serve between 1975 and 1977 as a clinical associate in clinical and experimental neurology, neuropathology and clinical neurophysiology with the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Md.
After a brief private practice in neurology in Pittsburgh, Roger took a position as chief of the neurology service at the Fargo, N.D., Veterans Affairs Medical Center and also was a member of the faculty of the Department of Neuroscience at the School of Medicine at the University of North Dakota.
Roger continued his thirst for knowledge by completing his pathology residency and neuropathology fellowship at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in 1986. Dr. Brumback was then recruited to the University of Oklahoma. In 1997, he was named a David Ross Boyd Professor in honor of his teaching excellence.
In Oklahoma, Roger established a clinical and research program in Alzheimer’s disease, and the Oklahoma Alzheimer’s Association created the Brumback Award to recognize individuals who made outstanding contributions to Alzheimer’s disease research. In 2001, Roger was appointed professor and chair of the Department of Pathology at Creighton University School of Medicine, a post he had until 2010.
While living in Norman, he wrote a physician advice column for The Transcript. The column “Ask Dr. B.” was popular among readers.
A scholar of the first order, Roger Brumback loved books — reading them, writing them and collecting them. Counting multiple editions, Dr. Brumback wrote, edited or co-authored at least 19 books on an amazingly wide range of topics and more than 130 articles published in numerous medical journals. Most remarkable of all, for a neuropathologist, was a series of books and articles on psychiatry and developmental cognitive disorders and two books about Alzheimer’s disease that are written as guides for families and caregivers.
In 1986, as Dr. Brumback began his first year as a pathology resident, he founded the Journal of Child Neurology and remained its editor-in-chief until his death. Additionally, in 2011, Dr. Brumback became the editor of Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine. While still a medical school student, Roger studied the chromosomal structure of the owl monkey as a thesis project and determined that there are several owl monkey species, which led his project sponsor to later have one of the new owl monkey species named Aotus brumbacki.
Among other honors, Dr. Brumback was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and the Creighton University chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society. He received the 2011 Warren Weinberg Award for Outstanding Contribution in the Field of Learning Disabilities from the Learning Disabilities Association of Texas. Dr. Brumback was elected president of both the Society for Experimental Neuropathology and the Behavioral Neurology Society. Roger Brumback was named the 2001 Alumni Fellow of the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, the highest honor given by the Pennsylvania State University Alumni Association.
Outside of his medical research, Roger had many diverse interests, such as being a ham radio operator, doing genealogy research and even going square dancing with his wife, Mary. He especially enjoyed traveling and exploring the world with his wife, Mary, at his side.
Roger was preceded in death by his father, Oscar B. Brumback.
He is survived by his mother, Frances N. Brumback of Monroeville, Penn.; his sister, Carol Jean Brumback of Middletown, Md.; and his brothers Wayne (Ellen) Brumback and Gary Lee Brumback, P.E. He is also survived by numerous loving family members, including nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins, along with many friends and colleagues.
Friends will be received from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Emmanuel Lutheran Church of Eastmont, 1229 Jefferson Heights Road in Pittsburgh (Wilkins), followed by a funeral service at 11 a.m., with Pastor Linda Theophilus officiating. Interment will follow at 1 p.m. at the Restland Memorial Park in Monroeville, Penn.
A reception will follow at the Garden City Volunteer Fire Department, 600 Garden City Drive in Monroeville, Penn.
Arrangements are by the Gene H. Corl Inc. Funeral Chapel And Cremation Services of Monroeville, corlfuneralchapel.com.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to one of the following organizations: Child Neurology Society at childneurologysociety.org/support-cns or send checks to Child Neurology Society, 1000 W. County Road East No. 290, St. Paul, MN 55126; or Penn State Hershey College of Medicine at giveto.pennstatehershey.
Please designate the Dr. Roger and Mary Brumback Alzheimer’s Disease Memorial Scholarship.
Norman Transcript, Friday, June 21, 2013