Renowned psychiatrist Dr Irwin Marcus and husband of former WWL-TV presenter Angela Hill dies aged 102
Dr Marcus, a decorated World War II veteran, wrote six books and established programs at Tulane and LSU for the treatment of mental illness in children and adults.
Renowned New Orleans psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and author Dr Irwin Marcus who spent more than 65 years treating and studying mental illness and its effects on children and adults, died Sunday. He was 102 years old.
His wife, Angela Hill, a former WWL-TV presenter, said Dr Marcus – whose vitality has amazed friends and colleagues half his age – was still counseling patients until early this year.
She said he was a perfect fit for his profession, as a natural listener who genuinely cared about those he treated.
“He understood people so well and was such a good listener that people were comfortable confiding in him,” Hill said. “This – combined with his fascination with the brain, human behavior and the importance of relationships – has given him a tremendous ability to help people. He was born to do what he did.
His son, Dr Randall “Randy” Marcus, said he had met many people over the years who credited his father with saving their lives. He said that he and his two sisters also benefited from their father’s gifts as a listener and advisor.
“This is what his children, friends and patients loved so much about him. His advice was just as solid as ever. I also think he was most proud of the fact that he was able to help thousands of New Orleanians over the years who suffered from mental disorders or trauma find a way out. “
Dr. Marcus was particularly respected for his role in establishing the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Program at Tulane University School of Medicine. He moved from New York to New Orleans in 1951 after being recruited to establish the program, initially called the Family Study Unit. According to Dr Charles Zeanah, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at Tulane and current vice-president of the program, it is the oldest such program in the southern Gulf.
Dr. Marcus was also the founder and past president of the New Orleans Psychoanalytic Institute, past chair of the Touro Infirmary’s Department of Psychiatry, and Clinical Professor Emeritus at Louisiana State University Medical School.
Born in Chicago on March 18, 1919, Dr. Marcus enrolled in college during the Great Depression, studying at the Illinois Institute of Technology and later at the University of Illinois School of Medicine. His son Randy said that Dr Marcus’ first interest was neurosurgery, although he would later treat and study the brain rather than operating on it.
He completed his medical residency at Chicago’s famed Cook County Hospital, one of the largest and best-known teaching hospitals in the country. There, his wife says he demonstrates the gift of listening that will shape his professional career.
“He would go back to visit patients after his shift was over, just to check them in, ask them how they were doing and find out more about them as people,” Hill said. “Other doctors asked him about it, but for me it was so emblematic of the empathy and care he had for his patients, believing that being a doctor is more than just treating the disease. from someone.”
He was in his third year of medical school when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The next day, he enlisted in the United States Army. Rising to the rank of captain, he served in the Army Medical Corps, treating wounded American soldiers in France. Since he had a college education in neurology and psychiatry, he was also assigned to treat brain injuries.
Dr Marcus was seriously injured while helping move an Army evacuation hospital and was sent back to the United States for treatment. After recovering, he worked at a military medical facility in El Paso, Texas.
There he established a clinic to diagnose and treat brain trauma and would later receive several honors for his military service. His son said that among his patients was a Navajo Code speaker – a member of the unit who used his traditional language to carry allied secret messages in the Pacific and was later honored with Congressional medals.
After the war, Dr. Marcus completed his training at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York, where he studied psychiatry, child psychiatry, and psychoanalysis. He was a member of the medical school and in private practice.
After coming to New Orleans to work at Tulane, he created the Family Study Unit and also started community outreach efforts, working with the Children’s Bureau, the Jewish Children’s Home, the German Protestant’s Orphan Asylum and associations. Catholic charities associated to better serve young patients.
According to Dr Zeanah, Dr Marcus has also developed counseling programs for local schools and pediatric wards at Charity Hospital. He is also credited with convincing government child welfare services to step up efforts to counsel children in foster care.
His wife said that his work with and on behalf of children was one of his proudest accomplishments.
“He was also very dedicated to educating the public about the need for child psychiatry, which was new at the time, but so important,” she said.
Active in many professional organizations, Dr. Marcus was a founder and past president of the Louisiana Council for Child Psychiatry as well as the first president of the Louisiana Group Therapy Association.
A recipient of numerous professional awards, he is the author of six books and dozens of peer-reviewed articles and articles in medical journals covering topics such as sex therapy, marriage counseling, child psychiatry, counseling family, psychoanalysis and medical education.
“Irwin was really brilliant,” said WWL-TV medical reporter Meg Farris. “Even in his later years, he was working on a solution to better protect professional athletes from head injuries. More so, he was a true gentleman of the South, a devoted doctor, a father, a grandfather and a great-grandfather.
Dr. Marcus’ first wife, Dorothy Elrod Marcus, was a speech therapist and social worker. She died in 1992.
He and Hill, who knew each other, had a blind date in January 1996 at the Antoine restaurant.
“We just talked and talked and talked, like we had always been soul mates,” she said. “It was a wonderful night.” The two tied the knot four years later, have traveled the world together, and have become staples at charity, social and cultural events here at home.
Dr. Marcus also began painting and sculpting, studying at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts, and creating works in honor of his wife, grandchildren and even animals. of company.
“Irwin was the only real Renaissance man I have ever known, the Da Vinci of our time,” said Karen Swensen, WWL-TV presenter. “He was an artist, a sculptor, an inventor with patents to prove it, an author, a surgeon, a wounded warrior. He personified the greatest generation. But the best thing about Irwin was the way he loved – everyone, but especially Angela.
Hill said one of her husband’s other loves was history, which he indulged in by reading voluminous books on America’s Founding Fathers, military heroes and other icons. One of his last public college events, at the age of 90, was at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson in Virginia, where he gave a talk and conducted a mock interview with an actor portraying the third president. from the country.
In addition to Hill, survivors include her three children: Dr. Randall Marcus, Sherry Leventhal and Melinda Marcus; eight grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.
Funeral services will be private.