Dr. Stanley Aronson...the man behind the words…
For the past 22 years, Rhode Islanders have had the pleasure of taking a journey through the mind of one of the most intelligent, inspiring, and influential members of our community. Through his over 1,150 weekly editorials, Dr. Stanley Aronson has for decades continuously expanded our world, covering topics from our state’s politics, to medical anomalies in need of a treatment or cure, to questionable cultural icons and leaders. Dr. Aronson has introduced people and ideas we would never have thought of, or thought interesting, and rendered them fascinating. He has made connections that have linked generations, diminished ethnic and economic divides, and touched each of us personally.
It is easy to read his articles and think what a terrific writer. But many may not realize what a profound impact Dr. Aronson – Stan – has had on our daily lives. With a career spanning over 70 years, Stan is an exceptional, world-renowned, physician, clinician, researcher, and leader in medical education. If you have ever been a patient at any one of Rhode Island’s hospitals; if you have had a loved one in need of end-of-life care; if someone in your life is being treated for dementia, Parkinson’s, or multiple sclerosis; or if you’ve been seen by a physician in training from The Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University, you have been directly affected by the work of Dr. Stanley Aronson.
I could go on at length about Dr. Aronson’s achievements as a pioneering neurologist, teacher, clinician, as the founding Dean of the Warren Alpert School of Medicine, eradicating Tay Sachs, to be the first to identify Lewy body dementia, just to name a few. But, suffice to say, Stan has dedicated his career to being a champion of those suffering from the most debilitating neurological disorders and mentoring generations of physicians.
Dr. Aronson is also a humanitarian and community leader who believes, without compromise, that care must encompass an entire person’s illness, an entire person’s life. He established support groups for families coping with an infant with a fatal illness decades before it was common practice. He fought tirelessly to improve conditions in community hospitals, again, going against then hospital standards, and for adults living with terminal diseases at every stage of their illness. Additionally, as one of the co-founders of Home & Hospice Care of Rhode Island, he was instrumental in establishing what today serves as a national model for palliative care.
Aside from all his professional accolades, Stan is a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. He has known great joys, challenges, and sadness in his life. Perhaps it is the combination of his professional career and personal experiences, his passion for life and people, that today at 91, he is still driven by a quest to learn, to improve a patient’s life, to pique the interest of just one more reader. And he inspires us to join him on this journey every week.
In reflecting upon Stan’s career, I imagine all he’s seen over the decades – changes in the world map, politics, medicine, music, technology. A person could be overwhelmed – or like Stan – embrace it and be a link between the past and the future.
In recognition for all of Dr. Aronson’s contributions to our daily lives – as a writer, physician, educator, colleague, friend – and to honor Stan in a most appropriate and lasting manner, one that will support his vision for the highest standard of compassionate health care in our community, I would like to invite you to join me and hundreds of friends, students, and grateful patients, in establishing The Aronson Chair for Neurodegenerative Disorders at Butler Hospital.
For more information on how you might participate in ensuring his legacy, view Aronson Chair Campaign. The Aronson Chair is a great way for each of us to recognize this inspiring man, how he has enriched our lives, and I hope you will give it your most generous consideration.
Until next week’s editorial…
Arthur Robbins, a friend of Dr. Stanley Aronson, is a local businessman, a member of the Butler Hospital Foundation, and one of the Rhode Island’s leading philanthropists and volunteers.
Article published with the permission of The Providence Journal, May 19, 2013.