Robert Alberts (1928 - 2015)

Obituary
  • "We loved you & Robert from the first time we met you and..."
  • "Nancy, We will remember Robert with the fondest of..."
  • "My sympathy to the Alberts family. May the God Almighty..."
  • "I met Dr. Alberts when he came to KTUU for an interview so..."
    - Jackie Purcell
  • "May God walk with you thru this difficult time."
    - Pat & Frank Mancha

Robert Alberts, M.D., M.P.H., 86, formerly of Anchorage and Bethel, Alaska, died surrounded by family on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, in Seattle, Wash., following a sudden and brief illness. He was born in Tarakan, off the coast of Borneo, Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), on Dec. 23, 1928, to Bartelomeus and Geria (Plantenga) Alberts. He lived his early life as a Dutch colonial child, and then as a prisoner of war. His family all survived World War II, and were repatriated to the Netherlands in 1946. After earning his medical degree in 1954, at the State University of Leiden, he came to the U.S. as a young doctor in 1956, and knew he had found his home. For the next 56 years he practiced general medicine, public health/preventive medicine and psychiatry, ending with 25 wonderful years in Alaska. His early life shaped his professional direction: A deep interest in transcultural psychiatry and public health issues, and an empathy for combat veterans and prisoners of war. He came to Bethel in 1979, to direct the mental health program of the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corp., and fell in love with the Yupik people of the Y-K Delta. He enjoyed the time he spent in villages with his Alaska Native friends. After he moved to Anchorage, he continued to have an especially strong empathy for Native people living with rapid culture change, and believed that rapid and forced acculturation were the root of many difficulties. Another focus was veterans: his concern for those suffering the effects of post traumatic stress was very evident to his patients, and he enjoyed a special rapport with veterans and active duty personnel. He was made an honorary member of the American Ex-Prisoners of War (AXPOW), even though during his prison camp years he was a Dutch adolescent civilian, and he always carried that AXPOW membership card with him. He started a multidisciplinary psychiatric clinic in Anchorage, where he and his wonderful staff made a difference in the lives of many. He also enjoyed working with his medical colleagues at Providence and Alaska Regional hospitals, and in 1996 the physicians of Providence elected him chief of the medical staff. Throughout his career he was always interested in the public health and welfare, leading him at an earlier point his life to become Director of Public Health for the State of Wyoming in 1964-68. In fact, at the time of his Wyoming appointment at age 36, he was the youngest state health director in the U.S. Until his death, Dr. Alberts was an active, strong, curious and kind man, with many friends and many interests, and a forward-looking and adventurous outlook on life. He traveled at every opportunity. He learned Spanish in his eighties and lived in Mexico for several years. In 2003, he retired from Alaska, where, he said, he spent the most satisfying years of his life, and since then did temporary psychiatric work at federal VA and IHS facilities, and lived in Seattle; San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; and San Luis Obispo, Calif. Dr. Alberts is survived by Nancy Babcock, his wife of 31 years; and two sons and daughters-in-law, Steven Alberts, M.D. (Paula), of Rochester, Minn., and Michael Alberts, D.V.M. (Kristin Kelsey), of Port Orchard, Wash. He also leaves his Dutch family, including his beloved brother, Eduard Alberts (Netty), and their children, Jeroen, Margriet and Bart. He adored his family, and they and his many friends will miss him terribly. Memorial service will be held in Seattle on Oct. 24, 2015. Special thanks to his primary care physician, Dr. Michelle Matin, and the ICU staff at Swedish Cherry Hill, Seattle. Instead of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Swedish Medical Center Foundation, community.swedish.org.
Published in Anchorage Daily News on Oct. 13, 2015
Arrangements under the direction of:
Bleitz Funeral Home
316 Florentia Street | Seattle, WA 98109 | (206) 282-5220
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