Robert L. Spears, M.D., long-time faculty member at the University of Southern California School of Medicine and senior medical administrator at several USC School of Medicine-affiliated hospitals, passed away on June 23 in Colorado Springs, Colo. at the age of 80.
Born May 9, 1932 in Santa Ana, Calif. to Harvey Matthew Spears and Ruth Hall Spears, both natives of Red Oak, who moved to California in the 1920's. Robert, also known as Bob, grew up in Fullerton, Calif. and enjoyed taking evening horseback rides with his family on the grove trails of Sunny Hills, the largest orange grove in Orange County at the time. Bob rode as part of the La Habra Horse and Riding club, played tennis and swam for Fullerton Union High School. Bob graduated from Dartmouth College in 1954 where he received Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa honors and received his M.D. degree from USC in 1957. After completing his internship at LA County-USC Medical Center and residency in pediatrics at Children's Hospital, he studied Neonatology in Paris, France from 1960-1962 on a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) fellowship.
During his 40 year career at USC, Bob was an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at USC Medical School from 1962-1969 and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics from 1969 until his retirement in 2002. During this time, he also held a number of senior administrative positions with a number of USC Medical School-affiliated hospitals, most notably serving as Medical Director at Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center and Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. Bob is remembered by former colleague and friend Robert Tranquada, former Dean of the USC School of Medicine and Medical Director of the Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center, as "a fine administrator who was always deeply respected by the faculty with which he worked. He participated with enthusiasm in the interviewing of medical school applicants and played a critical role in the late 1980's in creating the clinical department faculty practice plans that were essential in opening the newly completed USC University Hospital in 1991."
Dr. Spears authored over 25 articles in leading medical journals in the fields of neonatology, medical education and health. He also served on the board of numerous organizations including the First Visitor Services at Peak Vista Community Health Centers, Beth-El College of Nursing & Health Sciences at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees.
Bob married Ann MacLeod Brigham in 1956 with whom he had three children, Robert Matthew, Elizabeth MacLeod and Carolyn Lee. Bob married Fran Frey in 1982 and in 1992 moved to Colorado Springs, Colo. In 1997, Bob married Mali Hsu with whom he traveled extensively around the world along with spending time in Mazatlan, Mexico.
Bob is predeceased by his first wife Ann MacLeod Brigham and daughter Elizabeth MacLeod Spears Spindler. He is survived by his wife Mali Hsu of Colorado Springs, Colo. (and her son Wei), son Robert Matthew Spears of Dakota Dunes, S.D. (and his wife Christine and children Corinne, Connor and Tucker Spears), and daughter Carolyn Lee Spears Cornforth of San Marcos, Calif. (and her husband Matthew Cornforth and children McLeod and Macy Cornforth). Bob is also survived by brother Richard Harvey Spears of Las Vegas, Nev., step-brother Robert L. Weaver of South Pasadena, Calif. and step-sister Janet Weaver Ousdahl of Yorba Linda, Calif.
Bob's family will hold a graveside memorial service at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, Calif. later in the summer. The family requests that friends and family members honor him by signing his online guestbook at www.legacy.com. In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made in the memory of Dr. Robert L. Spears to the University of Colorado Foundation on behalf of the Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences at UCCS. 100% of your gift will be directed to Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences to support the greatest needs of the College. Please make your gift out to "CU Foundation" and mark "Robert L. Spears: Beth-El #0421176" in memo line or in an accompanying letter. Gifts can be mailed to the CU Foundation 1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway; Colorado Springs, CO 80918, or gifts can be made online by going to www.cufund.org/RobertSpears. For online gifts, please check 'In Memory of" and write Robert Spears after "honoree first and last name." No other information is necessary, as Dr. Spears' family will be provided the names (not amounts) of the individuals contributing unless otherwise requested.
Published in Atlantic News Telegraph on June 29, 2012