Northwestern Remembers Harold Visotsky
Friends, colleagues, and family members gathered September 25 in Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Pritzker Auditorium to pay tribute to Harold M. Visotsky, MD, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern’s medical school for 25 years. Dr. Visotsky, who died June 16 at age 78, also served as director of Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Stone Institute of Psychiatry. Prior to joining Northwestern, Dr. Visotsky was director of the State of Illinois’ mental health department.
In a letter read at the service, Gary A. Mecklenburg, president and CEO of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, noted that “[Dr. Visotsky’s] bold plan for the department made it one of the most distinguished in the region, and his background at the Illinois Department of Mental Health led to his sensitivity to the underserved.”
Ronald F. Krasner, MD, interim department chair who joined the faculty in 1984, commented that the photo on the memorial service program (shown here) truly captured Dr. Visotsky. “It shows Harold’s twinkle that conveyed to people that he was in control and would make everything okay,” he said.
Among Dr. Visotsky’s attributes, noted Eric A. Plaut, MD, former department vice chair, were his loyalty to his staff and love of teaching and being a clinician, which “kept him grounded.” Dr. Visotsky was called upon frequently as a consultant because he was “a quick study who saw the big picture but knew the practical steps to solve problems,” Dr. Plaut said. One who relied on Dr. Visotsky’s sage advice was the late Eppie Lederer, who wrote the syndicated Ann Landers column.
Psychiatrist Jerry M. Lewis, MD, of Dallas described his longtime friend and colleague as “a powerful man who was loving and sweet.” With Dr. Visotsky’s passing, Dr. Lewis said he needed to turn the shared memories into “something that would have meaning in his life”—and he urged all those who knew the psychiatry leader to do the same.
Born on Chicago’s West Side, Dr. Visotsky served in the Army during World War II and received several medals for bravery. He then earned both his bachelor’s and medical degrees from the University of Illinois, followed by an internship at Cincinnati General Hospital and a psychiatry residency at the University of Illinois hospital.
Survivors include wife Gladys; son Jeffrey L., MD, assistant professor of clinical orthopaedic surgery at Northwestern; daughter Robin, and two grandchildren.