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Robert H. Moser, MD, MACP: 1923–2013

AΩA, Georgetown University, 1969

I got to know Bob Moser in 2001 when he became the book review editor for The Pharos. For the next three years, we talked on the phone every couple of weeks, discussing books and reviews and all the things he was doing in his life. He told me about his spinal stenosis and the high-tech surgery he had for it, his bike accident (this in his 80s), his wife Linda’s cat rescue operations, the sale of his home in New Mexico, his travels, his son’s death.

Bob was interested in almost everything and everyone. He wanted to know all about the AΩA office, my cats, The Pharos, and my childhood in Hawaii, where he had also lived and worked. Bob was witty, opinionated, and fun. As we continued our chats, it gradually dawned on me that he had had quite a life: service and decorations in the Korean War, medical flight controller for the NASA Mercury and Apollo programs, chief of Medicine at Walter Reed, editor-in-chief of JAMA, executive vice president of the American College of Physicians. More of his background emerged in the articles he wrote for The Pharos: “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin Comes to Medicine” (Fall 1999), “The Korean Experience: Vignettes from Cloister to Chaos and Back” (Summer 2002), “My Romance with Space” (Autumn 2003), and “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin Comes to Medicine—Redux” (Autumn 2009).

Bob was not one to sit back and relax in his retirement—one year he volunteered to read and review all the essays submitted to the AΩA Student Essay Competition. He raced through the more than fifty essays and wrote detailed reviews for each. From that year until this, he continued to read and review them all in a marathon session each February and March.

After Bob retired as the book review editor we kept in touch and he stayed involved in The Pharos, writing reviews, letters, and commentaries. In June the word came: pancreatic cancer. When I asked him if he would like to write one last article for The Pharos, a final laying-down-of-the-law for the profession, he said he was too tired. I knew the end must be near.

Bob died in hospice care in early August. I miss him dearly, but I know that the profession of medicine is richer for his life.

Debbie Lancaster
Managing Editor, The Pharos

Do you have an anecdote you'd like to share with us about Dr. Robert Moser? E-mail Debbie Lancaster. I will add them to this page.

In June 1964 I traveled to El Paso, Texas to my assignment at William Beaumont Army Hospital a freshly minted Major and board certified Neurologist. A few months later Lt. Col. Robert Moser was assigned as Chief of Medicine, Directer of the Internal Medicine residency training program and my immediate superior. There I enjoyed the most productive and enjoyable two years of my medical career. The contagion of his wonderful enthusiasm for teaching and clinical research was overwhelming. I got to know Bob more informally on several trips driving to the Sierra Blanca ski area (now Ski Apache) 149 miles north of El Paso. Those trips were filled with constant conversation about medicine, research, politics, and philosophy that have greatly enriched my life. He even induced me to enter a research project where I had to run three miles several times a week. I will always appreciate how that brief association has enhanced my professional and personal life.

Darrell S. Buchanan MD (AΩA, University of Arkansas, 1957), Colonel, Retired, US Army

I knew Dr. Moser during the period 1969-73 when I completed my second and third years of Internal Medicine residency at the Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu HI and subsequently served as assistant chief of the General Medicine Service at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC. Dr. Moser heard presentations of interesting and unusual cases on several occasions and always provided insights that others had not considered. It was clear that he was a superb clinician in addition to his other achievements.

Harvey A. Schneier, MD (AΩA, Columbia University, 1966)

I was stationed at the US army Hospital when Bob was there. I was a fledgling physician who had not completed a residency, but I found myself attached to the Chief of Pediatrics. Bob took me under his wing, encouraged me, taught me and played basketball for the hospital team. We actually beat the infantry at their game principally because we were coached by Bob! My wife Barbara and I admired him a great deal.

Bob and I went our separate ways but we met again so years later when I was a consultant to the Army Hospital in El Paso. I was again impressed with him, particularly with his wisdom concerning medical education.

Bob of course went on to accomplish so many important tasks in medicine. I followed them at a distance but I never forgot his zest for life, his intelligence, and his inherent goodness. Bob will be sorely missed.

Armond S. Goldman, MD (AΩA, University of Texas Medical Branch, 1988)
Emeritus Professor, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston

I was familiar with Dr. Moser due to his interactions with the military and his involvement with the ACP. He was well known to us in the Air Force as well as those in the Army. I spoke with him after his address ~2 years ago when I received the Laureate award from the American College of Physicians (Air Force chapter) in San Antonio. He was very gracious and took some time to speak with me. He was still magically vital then despite his difficulty with walking. He was truly one of the legends of military medicine.

Richard Winn, MD (AΩA, Texas Tech University, 2012), USAF Retired
Professor of Medicine, Texas Tech Health Sciences University

I was Bob's first Chief Resident. It was 1966 in El Paso and he was Chief of Medicine at William Beaumont General Hospital. What an incredible 6 months I experienced. We traveled via Military transport to Fort Hood, Boston and San Francisco for him to present at a CPC or lecture on space travel or Korean experiences. My fondest memories of him were on the soft ball field( he was an excellent shortstop), or playing touch football and running with him from one place to another for exercise. He jogged long before it was popular. I can still see him in his office, feet up on the desk, pipe clenched between his teeth, clip board at the ready, writing another tome. He was my hero.

Later, we would meet infrequently at ACP meetings and then letters and emails sufficed. He will be terribly missed.

Richard J. Hess, MD (AΩA, Temple University, 1961)

Updated on October 12, 2013.