Robert Edwin Gwyther of Chapel Hill, NC, 78, passed away on April 8, 2023 surrounded by his family at the Carol Woods Retirement Community from complications of Lewy Body Dementia.
Bob was born August 15, 1944, in Evansville, Indiana. Raised in Cleveland, Ohio, he especially enjoyed stories of the American West, family trips, camp counseling, and being a big brother. Bob graduated from Brush High School and Case Western Reserve University, where he completed undergraduate (BS Chemistry) and graduate degrees (MBA).
Bob met Lisa Pepper in a philosophy class at Case in 1964 and they married on June 25, 1967. Bob served in the US Coast Guard (1968-1972) teaching chemistry at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut where the couple welcomed their two children. The family then returned to Ohio where Bob completed medical school at the Medical College of Ohio at Toledo (1975) and a family medicine residency at Akron City Hospital (1978).
Bob joined the faculty of the UNC-Chapel Hill Department of Family Medicine in 1978, holding several leadership positions over the years until his retirement in 2014 as a Professor Emeritus. Double boarded in family medicine and addiction medicine, Bob loved his patients, his colleagues, and teaching. He was particularly honored to serve as President of the NC Academy of Family Physicians (2001-2002), to help bring The Healer’s Art and Finding Meaning in Medicine curricula to the UNC School of Medicine, to have a resident clinician award established in his name, to practice obstetrics for more than 30 years (longevity which allowed him to attend the births of two generations of some families), and to work with many families struggling with alcohol and other substance use disorders.
Bob was also grateful for his enduring relationships with family and friends, which he approached with the same attention and candor as he did practicing and teaching medicine. He loved time spent playing guitar and singing with his Taking Turns bandmates, vacationing in faraway lands and favorite family haunts, throwing in a fishing line at his “Kid Bait” lakefront home, cheering for the Tar Heels, sharing (and later reminiscing) about a great meal, laughing before his punch lines and taking keen interest and pride in the lives of his spouse, children, grandchildren and extended family and friends.
Bob is predeceased by his parents Robert and Ruth (Herlinger) Gwyther and a stillborn older brother. He is survived by his wife Lisa (of the home), his children Marni Holder (James) of Durham, NC and Ryan Reiff Gwyther (Chelsea) of Auburndale, MA, four grandchildren (Emma and Coen Gwyther, Elena and Aidan Holder), sister Barbara Matthews (Donald) of Harrisburg, PA, sister-in-law Miriam Pepper (Richard Halliburton) of Kansas City, MO, five nieces/nephews, thirteen great-nieces and nephews, and many cousins.
Burial is private, with a memorial service at Carol Woods Assembly Hall in Chapel Hill on May 19 at 2 pm. The family thanks the staff of Carol Woods for their compassionate and skillful care of Bob, as well as the many friends who visited with him at the health center.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Bob’s memory may be made to the UNC Department of Family Medicine, the Duke Dementia Family Support Program, or Piedmont Health Services.