Robert McDivitt Obituary (2021) – Salt Lake City, UT

Dr. Robert W. McDivitt, born in West Sunbury in 1931 to Boyd and Ruth (McCarrier) McDivitt, died peacefully at home in Salt Lake City, Utah on September 18, 2021 at the age of 90.
He is survived by his 61-year-old, loving wife, Candy; his daughters Lyn Duncan, Kipp Kelley, and their husband Mike; his brother James McDivitt and his wife Dorothy; his sister Carol Scrivner and her husband Noel; and his sister-in-law Nancy Speck.
He is also survived by his beloved grandchildren Micki Duncan, Elias Duncan, Duncan Kelley, and Griffin Kelley.
An avid reader and writer, Bob studied comparative literature at Harvard College, attended Yale School of Medicine, and was a house clerk at the Osler Medicine Service at Johns Hopkins before realizing that pathology was his true calling.
In Baltimore he met the love of his life, Candy, who was a neighbor and nursing student at Johns Hopkins.
His anatomical pathology training with Johns Hopkins was followed by a scholarship in surgical pathology at Memorial Hospital in New York City. There, in the company of trusted friends and colleagues, Drs. Phil Lieberman, Frank Foote and Fred Stewart, Bob began a career that led to many advances in the field of surgical pathology.
Bob and Candy’s time in New York City was interrupted when Bob joined the US Air Force and was stationed at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois for two years. While in the Air Force, he attended weekly surgical pathology conferences at Washington University in St. Louis, where Dr. Lauren Ackerman became a close friend and trusted mentor.
Upon his return to New York City, Bob joined Memorial Hospital as a faculty member. In collaboration with Dr. Stewart and Berg, he authored the 2nd Armed Forces Institute of Pathology Fascicle on Breast Tumors, which served as an important pathological reference work for decades. Shortly thereafter, he became director of surgical pathology at New York Hospital, where Candy worked as an operating room nurse. Dr. Bill Cathey, a Hopkins-time colleague in pathology who also served as the usher at their wedding, encouraged Bob to visit Salt Lake City after giving a talk in Denver. With two young daughters and the different cost of living between New York City and Salt Lake City, Bob and Candy quickly decided to move west. He joined the University of Utah’s Pathology Department as Director of Surgical Pathology and was involved in the Southwest Oncology Group. At that time he was a sought-after diagnostician, consultant, collaborator and lecturer.
Life in Salt Lake City was good; However, after nearly a decade in the United States, Bob and Candy decided to move to St. Louis. His appointment to the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis was enhanced by his close relationship with Dr. Lauren Ackerman relieved. As director of anatomical pathology at Jewish Hospital and then Barnes Hospital, his National Institutes of Health-funded research explored breast cancer using techniques novel at the time: flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry. He was adept at mastering the challenges of balancing research, diagnostic pathology, teaching, and administration.
As an expert in breast pathology, Bob enjoyed an active itinerary including teaching assignments on every continent and in the Caribbean. After a few years as directors of Great Medical Getaways in the Caribbean, Bob and Candy got ready. They received their captain’s licenses from Annapolis Sailing School, learned sky navigation, became PADI instructors, and built a 40-foot sailboat they named the Charade. When Bob retired, he and Candy loved to sail the Caribbean and returned to New England that summer to visit his family. After a few years they settled in a yacht club in Trinidad and Tobago and Bob taught as a senior lecturer at the University of West Indies. He was a popular teacher and, working with his daughter Lyn, revised the pathology curriculum.
Cruise life was adventurous; Bob and Candy found a community among fellow sailors. Her daughter Kipp had returned to Salt Lake City with her husband and now had two young children. Eventually Bob and Candy retired from sailing and moved to a bungalow near the family in Salt Lake City. At the invitation of the chairman Dr. Peter Jensen, one of several US faculties that Bob had learned as an intern at Washington University in St. Louis, he joined the faculty of the Pathology Department at the University of Utah.
Bob lived a full life with his wife, Candy. Initially, they enjoyed the New York state summer vacation at the Adirondack League Club with Drs. Foote and Stewart, as well as year-round outdoor activities with the Campfire Club. They learned to tie flies for fishing, shoot skeets and traps, and hunt deer and poultry, activities that were easier to get to in Utah than New York.
Dog lovers had German Shepherds, followed by Akitas. Bob had passed away three months before his close Akita companion, Miko.
In later years, Bob and Candy enjoyed the simple life of Salt Lake City, with Kipp and his family nearby, and annual family reunions at Lyn’s Cape Cod home.
He remained an avid reader with a book collection that rivaled most good libraries. In addition to his published work on breast tumors, Bob has been writing his autobiography at the suggestion of his daughters in recent years.
MCDIVITT – A private memorial service for Dr. Robert W. McDivitt, who passed away on Saturday, September 18, 2021, will take place in Cape Cod at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Robert W. McDivitt MD Endowed Fund, Division of Anatomic Pathology at the University of Utah at are very welcome.

Published by Butler Eagle on October 9, 2021.

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