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Joseph Satten

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On December 28, 2012, Joe, 91, died of natural causes in San Francisco. He was preceded in death by Norma, his wife of 65 years, who died in 2010. He is survived by his children Neal, Debby, and Sara; his daughter-in- law, Rona Cordish Satten; his grandchildren, Susanna Satten, Matthew Satten and Cory Edelson Cary; and his grandson-in-law, Ryan Cary. Joe was a devoted husband, loving father and grandfather, and patriarch of the extended family. Joe was born in 1921 in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated cum laude from Brooklyn College in 1941. There he met Norma Goldstein, whom he married in 1945. Also in 1945, while in the Army Specialized Training Program, he obtained his M.D. from New York University. Joe completed his U.S. Public Health Service duty in Kansas, serving as the prison psychiatrist at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. There he began to pursue what became his lifelong interest: trying to understand what makes some people commit murder. At Leavenworth, he first met Dr. Karl Menninger, founder of the Menninger Clinic. In 1948, Norma and Joe moved to Topeka where they raised their children. Joe studied psychiatry at and then joined the staff of the Menninger Foundation. He worked there until 1971, where he created the Division of Law and Psychiatry and served as its Director. In the early 60s, he worked closely with Truman Capote as Capote wrote In Cold Blood. In the book, Capote quotes one of Joe's research papers that posits how two mixed up personalities can influence each other and essentially fuse into a third even more damaging personality capable of murder. Joe, a noted forensic psychiatrist, also testified as an expert witness in many prominent murder cases. Joe was active in both the Menninger and Jewish communities in Topeka. He supported Norma's career as a city planner and took pleasure in his children's academic and social successes. He was an avid photographer, card player, crossword puzzle solver, book lover, stamp collector, and real estate investor. Joe and Norma moved to San Francisco in 1971, where Joe opened a private practice in psychiatry. He also worked at Mount Zion Hospital for many years, serving as the last Medical Director of its In-Patient Psychiatric Service when it closed in 1993. He was a founding member of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. His professional affiliations included, among others, the American Criminology Society, the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychoanalytic Association. He was the President of the Board of the Northern California Service League for 20 years, where he received the Justice Raymond Peters award in 1988. Brooklyn College gave him an Alumni Award of Merit in 1967 for his work to prevent crime and rehabilitate prisoners. Memorial services were held on Monday, December 31 at the Home of Peace Cemetery Chapel in Colma, California, followed by interment there. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Joseph and Norma Satten Endowment Fund for Long-Term Care of the Frail and Needy at Jewish Family and Children's Services, 2150 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94115. Dr. Joseph Satten
Published in Topeka Capital-Journal on Jan. 7, 2013
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