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ROBERT L. GOODALE, JR., M.D.,PH.D., 1930-2014

We lost a great friend, colleague and leader on July 17, 2014 when Dr. Robert L. Goodale died from cancer at age 84 in Edina, Minnesota. Bob Goodale was a pioneer in GI endoscopic surgery, a compassionate surgeon, and a gentleman. He led the way locally and nationally in the field of minimally invasive surgery. Bob established the Department of Surgery’s Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery and was founding director of the Surgical Endoscopic Training Program at the University of Minnesota. Additionally, he was one of the first surgeons in the Twin Cities to perform endoscopic laser and sclerotherapy. Beyond all of his remarkable contributions, he was known for his ability to solve diagnostic and therapeutic problems for his patients. His compassionate bedside manner, warm demeanor and wonderful sense of humor were legendary.

In 1930, Dr. Goodale was born in Boston, Massachusetts, growing up in Cambridge and Ipswich. He attended Groton School, a private boarding school located in Massachusetts before attending Princeton University for his undergraduate degree. In 1956, he completed medical school at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. He then pursued a three year internship at the Boston City Hospital and then served two years in the United States military. His passion for knowledge guided him to the University of Minnesota in 1961, where he earned his PhD in Surgery and Physiology. In 1967, under the leadership of Dr. Owen H. Wangensteen, he was appointed an instructor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota.

Bob’s interest in endoscopy began early in his career after spending two months in Japan where he studied under Dr. Kawai in Kyoto learning endoscopic techniques not yet introduced in the United States. He focused specifically on improving techniques used to control GI bleeding with laser, sclerotherapy, electrocautery and clipping. Additionally, he became one of the early experts in stenting of the esophagus and biliary tree to relieve obstruction. He lived to see these minimally invasive surgical techniques become standard world-wide.

Dr. Goodale retired from his clinical practice in 2002 but he remained close to the Department of Surgery, often attending grand rounds and participating regularly in research meetings as part of the Basic and Translational Research Division. He was honored by the University of Minnesota in 2004 with the Harold S. Diehl Award given in recognition of his outstanding professional contributions to the University. The Department of Surgery invited Dr. Goodale to speak at Graduation as the Surgical Alumnus of the Year in 2012.

Bob was, and his wife Katherine still is, highly devoted to philanthropy for many great causes in Minnesota. They created the Robert and Katherine Goodale Chair in Minimally Invasive Surgery which is currently held by gastrointestinal surgeon, Dr. Sayeed Ikramuddin. The couple also created the Dr. Robert and Katherine Goodale Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund at the University of Minnesota. Katherine was a dance teacher for many years and Bob enjoyed drawing and playing music. This passion for the arts led them to renovate the former Shubert Theatre, in downtown Minneapolis, now named The Goodale Theater. In addition to his philanthropy, Bob enjoyed traveling to Russia with Katherine to watch dance through Link Vostok, an international arts exchange.

Dr. Goodale is survived by his wife Katherine, four children (Anne Esmonde, Katherine Prendergast, Margaret Mason, and Robert L. Goodale III), five grandchildren, and two sisters. He is preceded by a sister who passed away in 2008. Bob was a compassionate physician and his contributions to the field of minimally invasive surgery and surgical endoscopy are historic and relevant to surgeons of today. I have many fond memories as a resident and fellow when we would take a break in the endoscopy suite to have a coffee. He would tell one story after another of people he knew and places he visited around the world. He left his mark on many and is greatly missed by all who knew him.