Infectious/Communicable Diseases
Designatory Letters: 
BA Kansas 1963, MD Kansas 1969, FACP 1981, FRCP Edin 2004

[Contributed by Drs Neil A Kurtzman and Donald E Wesson]

(Based on an obituary which first appeared in The American Journal of the Medical Sciences, Vol 341, Number 4, April 2011 to whom we are indebted)

Until he died in November 2010 Robert Kimbrough had been professor of medicine for 17 years at the Texas Tech University Health Services Center in Lubbock. Bob's training was excellent and conventional for an internist who specialised in infectious diseases. What was not conventional were his personal and professional characteristics which set him apart from his coevals.

He was one of the last of a disappearing breed - the master clinician and teacher. His recent election as a master of the American College of Physicians merely confirmed what everyone who had come in contact with Bob as a patient, student or colleague already knew. He was a master of his craft. What almost none knew was how ill he had been over the last 12 years of his life.

It is an axiom of medicine that a physician is to put the welfare of his patients before that of himself or his family. That is an impossibly high standard that few doctors meet but Bob did. Despite the admonition of his physician (NAK) that he should ease his work load, he continued to assume full clinical and teaching responsibilities, almost until the time of his death, because he felt that patient care and teaching in the Department of Internal Medicine at Texas Tech would suffer if he eased his burden.

Bob was available 24/7. You might see him in Bermuda shorts on the surgical floor on a Sunday afternoon, where in short order he would brilliantly analyze all aspects of the complex case that had brought him to the hospital while giving the residents and students holy hell for not calling him sooner and for not being as thorough and incisive as he was. Although the residents might suffer, though they learned a lot from the experience, the patient always benefitted from Bob's appearance.

Being Bob's colleague was as rewarding as being his patient. If you needed good advice, his office was the best place to go. If he worked for you, as he did for both of us, he was the ideal faculty member. Although we were his superiors, Bob provided us both with wise counsel, and his unassuming but effective leadership made the Department of Internal Medicine better. He did his job with dispatch and was always ready to help out when difficulty appeared. Despite surface gruffness, his students loved him. He was the recipient of numerous teaching awards. They elected him to the Texas Tech chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha. In addition to being master of the American College of Physicians, the organisation had previously given him its laureate award. Texas Tch gave him the Dean's Distinguished Service Award in 2010.

His clinical excellence was recognised far from home. He was a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

Bob was one of the country's premiere experts on medical history. He was a member of the American Osler Society and had a superb collection of antique books on medical history. He was an oenophile and a champion calibre trap shooter. He also had one of the country's great collections of bow ties which he wore everywhere except on Sundays when he was in Bermuda shorts.

He is survived by his wife Susan, 4 children, 3 sisters and 4 grandchildren. A fifth grandchild was born after his death. He is survived by thousands of colleagues, students and patients whose lives were enriched by his. His was a life well lived.