John W. Eckstein, MD (1923–2011)
It was 9:00 am. Tuesday, September 6th. I was at my desk when I received a call from Tom Eckstein, saying that his dad had just passed away. Jack Eckstein, the father, the husband, our hero, our friend, had passed away.
John W. Eckstein, MD, was an Iowan who stayed home and became dean of his alma mater. He was acclaimed nationwide as the dean of deans, not just for his 21-year tenure as dean of the University of Iowa College of Medicine, but for the respect and admiration he commanded from his peers; for his integrity, the trust he engendered, the high values he championed, and his enormous accomplishments. The building that carries his name as The Eckstein Medical Research Building is a perfect tribute to a man who committed his whole life to the college. The building now harbors our very best scientists, our Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators, our members of the National Academies and of the Institute of Medicine. He established the Cardiovascular Research Center in 1974, and set it up as a model for interdisciplinary research that flourished. He established the first Department of Family Practice and worked with the legislature in designing the Statewide System of Family Practice. He cared greatly about the community and its health care system. A large majority of the thousands of students who graduated during his tenure as Dean chose primary care as their career focus and many decided to stay in Iowa to serve Iowans.
When he left the Deanship in 1991, he left a legacy of an unassuming and fair-handed leadership of a medical school that had the nation's best rural medicine program, and was on the nation's list of 15 best colleges.
It is said that our accomplishments in life are often shaped …