Clinical Neurosciences Center

In Memoriam: M. Peter Heilbrun, MD

Former Chair of Neurosurgery Left Indelible Mark on University

SALT LAKE CITY - M. Peter Heilbrun, MD 1937-2010.  Peter Heilbrun passed away at home in Sausalito, California on 09/27/2010 surrounded by his family.  He was born on 03/23/1937 in Buffalo, New York to Evelyn and Norman Heilbrun, and has one younger sister, Robie (Bill) Harris.  After a liberal arts undergraduate career at Brown University in Rhode Island, Peter went to medical school at State University of New York, Buffalo, graduating in 1962.  While he began his training in General Surgery, after two years he elected to transfer to Neurosurgery. Prior to beginning a Neurosurgery residency at Washington University, St. Louis, he spent two years in the Navy, first on the USS Topeka in 1964 and then as the Medical officer at in the San Francisco Naval Shipyard at Hunter¿s Point. In St. Louis, he met the love of his life, Robyn (neé Ory), whom he married in 1970.  They have two daughters, Sarah Kate (David Gross) and Marta (Ron Penner), and three grandchildren.

Peter served most of his medical career at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, where was the chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery from 1983-2000.  Peter was a leader in the field of neurosurgery, spearheading the move toward minimally invasive and image guided techniques. In his professional realm, he was considered a true renaissance man, a great surgeon, physician, leader and mentor.

Outside of the medical environment, Peter was an avid skier, sailor, and artist who took up watercolor painting to fill the in between seasons during his retirement.  He embraced life to the fullest, traveling, experiencing, and sharing the world with his family and friends. While the loss of his spirit and vitality is palpable, he died as he lived, with grace, dignity and on his own terms.

His wife, his two daughters, their spouses and children, and his sister and her family survive Peter.  His parents preceded him in death.
Peter believed in the responsibility each of us has to bring out the best in each other.  We are thankful for the wonderful care he received from the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, Mt. Zion Cancer Center in San Francisco, and Bay Area Hospice. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation in his name to a charity or cause that is important in your life.