It is with great sadness that the University community is informed of
the death of Dr. Kurt Aterman, former Dalhousie professor of Pathology, on
July 28, 2002. He was 88.
Born in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1913, he graduated from
medical school in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1938. After the Nazi
occupation of Czechoslovakia, he fled to the United Kingdom. He
requalified as a doctor in Belfast in 1943. After that, he served in the
Royal Army Medical Corps in Britain and India until the end of the
In 1957, Dr. Aterman immigrated to Canada with his young family to
the directorship of laboratories at the Children's Hospital and an
Assistant Professorship in Pathology at Dalhousie. In 1961, he went to
the United States where he worked for six years until his return to
Halifax in 1967. He then served as Professor at Dalhousie and
for the former Izaak Walton Killam Hospital for Children until 1979.
1979 to 1986, he took up the position of Director, Regional Laboratory
Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton, N.B.. He remained an
Research Associate and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biology at
the University of New Brunswick from 1984 until his death.
Dr. Aterman had an unwavering commitment and devotion to his family,
science and the history of science. In a 50-year career, he wrote and
published more than 140 papers and articles, which were published in a
wide array of publications. He was an active member of numerous medical
associations. His passion for his family was expressed through
self-sacrifice, humor, wit and an immense pride in the achievement of
his wife, children and grandchildren.
He is profoundly missed by his wife, Rita, three sons, three
grandchildren, and two nephews.
Funeral services were held July 29, 2002 at 2 p.m. in Shaar Shalom
Synagogue, 1981 Oxford Street.
Donations in memory of Dr. Aterman may be made to the B'nai Brith
Foundation or to Doctors Without Borders.
Online condolences may be made to the family at:
We are saddened again, this time by the
passing of Dr. Kurt Aterman. I did not have the privilege of personally
meeting Dr. Aterman, but had the pleasure of reading many of his
illuminating and insightful contributions, including to our Journal.
They were written with such clarity, and had much to tell us that will
help us in our practices today. I particularly enjoyed his biographical
papers about individuals many of us would have never known without Dr
It is my hope that many of our membership
will honor Dr. Aterman's memory with contributions to the B'nai Brith
Foundation or to Doctors Without Borders.
Kurt Aterman was a scholar who wrote detailed and critical reviews of
the historical literature, often using his knowledge of languages to
re-read the originals and correct errors that had crept in. His 75th
Birthday was celebrated by the SPP with the publication of a previously
unpublished review of his from the Pediatric Pathology Club,
1966.(Neonatal hepatitis - A viral Disease? A Historical Perspective.
Pediatr Pathol 1989;9:243-250). His bibliography covers most topics
familiar to pediatric and perinatal pathologists, including a 1984 paper
on Caudal Dysplasia with J Philip Welch (Pediatr Pathol 1984;2;313-327).
He also published "Pronephros and Mesonephros - Cohnheim
revisited" in Pediatr Pathol 1990;10:1021-1032. His most recent
historical paper was published this year!
I enjoyed talking with him, he was always interesting, and also
sounded exactly like all my uncles with his middle-European accented,
but perfect English. A scholar and a real gentleman.
The news about Kurt's death was a terrible shock, as I had a very
pleasant phone conversation with him late last week. He was helping me
with a translation of some very difficult passages in a work by JF Meckel
My contact with Kurt began many years ago when I was asked to review a
paper he had submitted to Pediatric Pathology concerning the pronephros
and Cohnheim, and my comments on the paper led to a dialogue concerning
our mutual interests in history of biology and especially embryology that
continued until last week. Over the past year I have been collecting
material from Kurt concerning his amazing life and career. He was a small
man with a very large cerebrum and a soul to match. Dr. Pinar's sketch
gives a hint of the challenges faced by a young Jew growing up in
Czechoslovakia, receiving his medical training as Hitler was
approaching, then the fortunate move to London, arriving with his sister,
knowing nobody, having no money, and not speaking any English. Through
good fortune and very hard work, within a few years he was an honours
graduate in medicine in Belfast. He became interested in Pediatric
Pathology and spent a year as fellow with Edith Potter prior to moving to
Kurt was a classical European scholar and humanist. His deep affection
for music led to several excellent biographical papers on Mozart. His
respect for medical traditions led to a fine numismatic collection-perhaps
his proudest possession-of medals depicting great names in medicine and
science. Master of many languages, generous with his time and knowledge,
and a fine human being that only a few of us in the world of Pediatric
Pathology had the privilege of knowing well. Nancy and I had looked
forward to a chance to visit him and his charming and brilliant wife Rita
sometime in the next year, but now that is not to be. His was a
remarkably challenging life lived nobly and productively. His loss
creates a large empty space in my heart.
I would echo Bruce's comments. Dr.
Aterman was always very helpful to me when approached for advice and
I first met him in 1973 , at the
Washington DC meeting of the then PPC, and he was very kind in welcoming me to
the membership of what was then a small Club. He remained a source of
encouragement over the next two decades and more. His oral history should be
very interesting, as I believe Tom Stocker tried to interview him at the
Toronto 1998 meeting.
Derek de Sa
If you wish to add a few words, an anecdote, or a comment to this memorial page,
please email to Robert Ruiz.