Russell Noyes—’A beacon of wisdom’

Russell Noyes—’A beacon of wisdom’

We are sad to report the passing of ACLP president (1990-91) Russell Noyes Jr., MD, FACLP, on June 21, aged 88.


Russell Noyes Jr., MD, FACLP
Russell Noyes Jr., MD, FACLP

Russ, born in Indianapolis, obtained a BA from DePauw University and an MD from Indiana University School of Medicine. He completed an internship at the Philadelphia General Hospital and residency training in Psychiatry at the University of Iowa.

Russ served in the US Navy, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Commander while a staff psychiatrist at the US Naval Hospital in Great Lakes.

In 1965, Russ joined the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa College of Medicine and was elevated to professor in 1978. He remained on the faculty until his retirement in 2002.

Russ’ clinical research centered on depersonalization, panic disorder, and hypochondriasis. Study of these related disturbances contributed to numerous publications.

As Academy president he led initial efforts to obtain subspecialty recognition for the field of C-L Psychiatry and received the Eleanor & Thomas P. Hackett Memorial Award in 2006 from the Academy for career achievement.

A devoted member of Christ the King Lutheran Church, Russ was a quiet and reflective man but one who liked to laugh. He worked hard and had many interests, among them natural history, banjo playing, gardening, and watercolor painting.

Russ is survived by his wife, Martha, two daughters and one son, as well as three grandchildren.

Dr. Noyes has been described in obituaries as “an explorer of the new world of near-death studies” having published before 1975 four articles about experiences that, in that year, came to be known as NDEs. He went on to  co-present Pleasurable Western Adult NDEs: Aftereffects  during a 2006 International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) conference. At the conference, IANDS honored Russ’ early work on NDEs by presenting him with the Bruce Greyson Research Award—only the fourth-ever recipient of the award.

One of Russ’ ex-students at The University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics (James Amos, MD, Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychiatry, and an ACLP member for several years) wrote in a tribute after his death: “Dr. Noyes was my teacher during the time I was learning C-L Psychiatry back in the 1990s.

“Dr. Noyes retired in 2002. [After retirement] he soon returned to work in the department, staffing the outpatient clinic. He also continued to regularly attend grand rounds and research rounds. Years later at a grand rounds meeting, someone asked him about his retirement. Dr. Noyes retorted: ‘I don’t believe in retirement.’

“I was an avid student of C-L Psychiatry but I was not a scientist. That was part of the reason I left the university in 2005 for a position in a private practice psychiatry clinic. He cried at the going-away party my students and co-workers held for me. His sentiment was one of the main reasons I soon returned to the department. I came back because he was a consummate teacher and I wanted to learn more from this beacon of wisdom.

“Dr. Noyes knew how to guide his learners through their careers. He also knew how to write—and was a stern editor. Even as I wrote this remembrance, I could see how he might have critiqued it. I tried to do it on my own and, of course, I failed. It will have to do.”

Among tributes from ACLP members, James Levenson, MD, FACLP, writes: “I too remember Russ with great admiration. He was very modest, never interested in self-promotion. He was one of the most prolific scholars in C-L Psychiatry. PubMed lists 198 articles by him from 1969 to 2016. And what to make of this? His very first paper was titled Grief, and his last paper in 2016, The Dying Role: Its Relevance to Improved Patient Care.”

Noyes R Jr. Grief. J Iowa Med Soc. 1969 Apr;59(4):317-23. PMID: 5798158.
Noyes R Jr, Clancy J. The Dying Role: Its Relevance to Improved Patient Care. Psychiatry. 2016 Fall;79(3):199-205. doi: 10.1080/00332747.2016.1222153. PMID: 27880621.

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