URMC’s First Chief of Child Neurology Dies

May 24, 2010

Frederick A. Horner, M.D., the first chief of Child Neurology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, died April 20, 2010, at the age of 90.

Services will be private.

Dr. Horner graduated in 1947 from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and went on to complete a pediatric internship and an assistant residency here at Strong Memorial Hospital. After specialty training elsewhere, he joined the faculty in 1968 to become the first chief of Child Neurology at the University of Rochester.

After completing an assistant residency at Strong Memorial Hospital in 1950, Dr. Horner left Rochester to serve as chief resident at the Los Angeles Children's Hospital before serving his country as assistant chief of Pediatrics at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Denver. He then went on to spend 1953 and 1954 on a much sought after fellowship at the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases in London. On his return to the U.S. he held positions at the Massachusetts General Hospital, University of Colorado, University of Kentucky and Jefferson Medical College before he returned to the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Following his retirement in 1985 he was named professor Emeritus of Pediatrics.

Dr. Robert J. Haggerty, M.D., then chair of Pediatrics, along with Robert J. Joynt, M.D., Ph.D., then chair of the Neurology, recruited Dr. Horner to return to Rochester in 1968. During that era, child neurology was in the Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Haggerty knew Dr. Horner from their years training at Strong Memorial Hospital and credits Dr. Horner with helping him decide to become a pediatrician.

“He was always a very gentle, warm person, and he never lorded (his knowledge) over anybody,” Dr. Haggerty said. “He was just a very skilled clinician, a very good consultant and a very warm colleague.”

During Dr. Horner's 17-year tenure as chief, he set a high standard for the new division's clinical service, seeing patients almost every day of the week. He also set high standards for developing education programs in adult and child neurology. All 25 neurology residents who rotated through pediatric neurology during his tenure passed the Pediatric Neurology section of the Neurology boards on their first attempt, as did the eight child neurologists who graduated from the program. Dr. Horner was especially known for his ability to diagnose complex pediatric cases.

“He would work through very difficult problems,” Dr. Joynt said. “He often amazed me with the diagnoses he would come up with that turned out to be correct.”

Dr. Horner is survived by his wife, Marjorie; sister, Kathryn Altmas; brother, David Horner; nieces and nephews. Services will be private. Contributions in memory of Dr. Horner may be made to the Dr. Frederick A. Horner Social Work Emergency Fund, University of Rochester, P.O. Box 270032, Rochester, NY 14627. To light a candle visit www.anthonychapels.com.

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