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STECHLER, Dr. Gerry Died peacefully at home on December 18 after a courageous battle with cancer. He was a guiding intellectual and moral force in our community for more than five decades. Born in New York City in 1928, Gerry graduated from the Bronx High School of Science, University of Chicago, Columbia University (Phi Beta Kappa), and Yale University (Ph.D., Psychology), where he first began observing babies. He studied Psychoanalysis at the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute, and introduced infant developmental courses to their curriculum. His professional career almost always involved infant-parent relationships and emotional development, beginning as a Research Psychologist in 1954 with the Boston University School of Medicine Longitudinal Study of Infants and Mothers. In 1964 he published a game-changing article in Science showing how anesthesia (specifically ether) given to mothers in the delivery room reduced the newborns' ability to attend to stimuli. The practice of using ether soon stopped. He began to write about early affective development, the integration of psychoanalysis and family systems, and the interaction of the therapists own affects with the patients, and continued to pursue these topics throughout his life. Gerry was at Boston University School of Medicine for almost 60 years: as Professor of Psychiatry since 1968, Chairman of the Department of Child Psychiatry for 11 years, and Director of Child and Adolescent Services at Charles River Hospital in Wellesley in the 1980s. He helped to found the Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis and the Psychoanalytic Couple and Family Institute of New England; and was an active member of Division 39 of the American Psychological Association, Couple and Family Therapy and Psychoanalysis. He was a founding member of Temple Emunah in Lexington MA and served as its second president. Gerry is survived by his wife Toni (Halton) Stechler; daughters Amy Stechler (Bill Patterson) and Nancy Stechler Gawle (Peter); grandchildren Sarah Burns (David McMahon), Lilly Burns, Julia Gawle, and Adam Gawle; great-granddaughter Lyla Quinn McMahon; sister Mildred (Israel) Wolkow; and many nieces and nephews. His first wife Ellen died in 1977. Services at Temple Emunah, 9 Piper Road, Lexington MA 02421 on Friday, December 20, at 12:00 noon. Burial in Beit Olam East Cemetery, Wayland MA. Shiva at his late residence, Saturday, 7-9 pm; Sunday, 2-5pm and 6-8pm; Mon Wed., 7-9pm. A memorial service will be held in the spring. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to Temple Emunah, 9 Piper Rd, Lexington MA 02421. Levine Chapels, Brookline 617-277-8300 www.levinechapel.com
Published in The Boston Globe on Dec. 20, 2013
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