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Charles D. Aring 1904Ц1998

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Charles D. Aring: 1904 -1 998
Charles D. Aring, MD, was born June 21, 1904, in the small
farming community of Dent, O H , and died peacefully at his
home in Cincinnati on April 15, 1998, 2 months before his
94th birthday. Dr Aring was elected to active membership in
the American Neurological Association in 1942 and served as
its president in 1962-1963. His primary professional connection, with the exception of two interruptions totaling 6 years,
was with the University of Cincinnati, from 1919 until his
death, a span of nearly eight decades.
Childhood was not an easy matter for Charles Aring. By
age 5 he had lost both parents and was partially crippled by
poliomyelitis. At age 7 he was entered into the German Protestant Orphanage in Cincinnati, where he remained for the
next 8 years. At age 15 he was apprenticed to the Superintendent of the Cincinnati General Hospital, Dr Arthur
Bachmeyer, and served as office boy, errand runner, and
even night telephone operator. It was soon noticed that the
lad was an avid reader and unusually bright. With Dr Bachmeyer’s urging, he worked his way through undergraduate
studies and medical school, receiving his M D degree in
1929. After internship he served for a year and a half as both
Receiving Physician for the hospital and as its first resident
in neuropsychiatry, all at the Cincinnati General Hospital
and related institutions. From there he went to the Boston
City Hospital for an additional 2% years of neurological
training under the tutelage of D r Stanley Cobb. Thereafter
followed a year of fellowship in neurophysiology with John
F. Fulton at Yale and a year of Traveling Rockefeller Fellowship in London, with subsequent visits to Belgium, Breslau,
and Madrid. By this time, D r Aring had received 7 years of
postgraduate training, much of it at the leading centers of
neurology in the world. The many friends he made during
this time, including Stanley Cobb and H. Houston Merritt
in Boston, were lifelong.
Back in Cincinnati in 1936, Dr Aring joined the Section of
Neurology in the Department of Medicine, where he spent a
highly productive 10 years. His clinical and neuropathological
studies on B vitamin deficiencies (particularly pellagra),
organophosphate intoxication, and many other clinical
subjects attracted much attention. Charles Aring was widely
considered to be one of a handful of young neurologists who
were breathing new life into the then moribund field.
In 1946-1947, he chaired the newly formed Department
of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco,
but soon was invited back to Cincinnati by Dean Stanley
Dorst to chair a new Department of Neurology. He served
in that role for 27 years, becoming emeritus in 1974, but
remained active in the department as a teacher and advisor
for another two decades. The emphasis during the Aring
years was on patient care and teaching. Dr Aring was a superb teacher in any setting, be it one on one, at the bedside,
or in the lecture hall. He inspired those around him, and
generations of students revered him. Many entered the field
of neurology or psychiatry because of their contact with D r
Aring. He was recognized by receiving the George Barbour
Award of the University of Cincinnati in 1975. O n the
plaque, the following phrase was inscribed: “A teacher, friend
and inspiration to students.” In 1985 he was awarded the
Daniel Drake Medal, the highest honor of the University of
Cincinnati College of Medicine. More important to him were
the friendships he made during his long tenure in Cincinnati.
Charles Aring had many professional and scholarly interests. He served on more than a dozen editorial boards, including that of the Journal of the American Medical Association. His service on the editorial board of the Archives of
Psychiatry and Neurology and its successor, the Archives of Neurology, extended for three decades, from 1943 to 1973, with a
single 3-year hiatus. He embodied the conscience of American
medicine, and as a frequent essayist and editorialist, emphasized morals, manners, ethics, and professional behavior.
Outside the field of medicine, his intellectual life also
prospered. H e was a long-time member and past president of
The Literary Club of Cincinnati, to which membership he
read no fewer than 35 papers. His many essays were published in learned journals in this country and abroad.
Perhaps making up for his own childhood lack, Charles
Aring was also a consummate family man. He was married
to Mary Shroder for 65 years until her death in 1996. He is
survived by his two children, Dr Charles S. Aring, who practices neuroradiology in California, and Dair A. Rausch, who
also lives in California with her husband, Dr David Rausch.
There are four grandchildren, all fully grown.
Charles Aring was a scholar and a man of letters. His brilliance as a neurologist, teacher, paragon of academic excellence, counselor, mentor, and humanist brought great credit
to the institutions that he served for so long. More importantly, through these qualities he elevated the lives of all who
knew him. We celebrate his life, and mourn his passing.
Samuel A. Trufant, M D
Arthur K Asbuy, M D
Copyright 0 1998 by the American Neurological Association
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1904ц1998, charles, arinc
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