Dr. John S. Garvin, first head of UIC College of Medicine's neurology department, remembered as gifted, compassionate
Garvin, who was the first head of the department of neurology at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine and was known to peers as the "neurologist's neurologist," died from heart complications on Nov. 28, at his home. He was 95.
John S Garvin was born 1921 in Windsor, IL, a small farming town. He obtained his BA in 1942 at the University of Illinois downstate. His subsequent professional training was all done at UIC - medical school (MD, 1944), Internship (1944-45), and Neurology residency (1945-46). In the 1940’s while at UIC he work in the basement NPI labs with such luminaries Warren McCullough (first described neural network theory) Percival Bailey (premier neuropathologist – brain tumors), Frederic Gibbs (father of clinical EEG in the US) and Oscar Sugar (outstanding neurologist). As one could imagine, he was strongly influenced by Percival Bailey (neuropathology) and Eric Oldberg (Neurosurgery) both giants in their fields at the time. After the war, he served in the US army in Europe from 1946-48. He returned to the NPI to work from 1948-49. The following year he was awarded a Fullbright scholarship to study at the Queen Square National Hospital in London, England (1948-49). At the time, this was the premier clinical neurological educational center in the world. He again returned to UIC in 1950 to serve as a Clinical Instructor. In 1953, he was promoted to Assistant Professor then Associate Professor (1960), then Full Professor in 1962. In 1971 he became the Chair of Neurology upon the retirement of Eric Oldberg at which point Neurology first became a separate department at UIC. Neurology had functioned under Neurosurgery’s strong leadership of Dr. Oldberg, NPI’s Head. Dr. Garvin retired some seventeen years later in 1988 after having created a solid clinical department including clinical neurology, neurophysiology, neuropathology and pediatric neurology within its purview.
He died at home with his family on 11/28/2016 at the age of 95. He is remembered for his dedication to teaching students and residents, as an impeccable role model and gentleman, and a caring physician whose breadth of neurological and neuropsychiatric knowledge was likely unmatched in the Midwest. His clinical interactions with his patients always had a tasteful elegance perhaps garnered from the pioneers with whom he trained. In his retirement, John (Jay) would attend our special departmental functions and he and his family have greatly supported our department. He will be missed, but remembered partly through his family’s endowment of the John S. Garvin Professorship in Neurology which our current Department Head, Dr. Jeffrey Loeb proudly holds. We extend our condolences to his family and friends, but are proud of his heritage and are excited that his legacy at the NPI continues.
Jim Stone, M.D.
Steve Brint, M.D.