George Paulson
1930 - 2019
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Paulson, George
1930 - 2019
George Wesley Paulson died at home surrounded by his loving family on July 25, 2019, two days short of his 89th birthday. George was born July 27, 1930 in Raleigh, NC, son of Jehu DeWitt Paulson and Grayce Caudell. On a Pepsi Cola scholarship he went north to Yale University, where he graduated with a BS in Zoology in 1952. He completed his MD at Duke University in 1956 (elected AOA), interned at Bellevue Hospital in NYC and completed his residency in Neurology at Duke. Following residency he served for two years as Chief Neurologist at Womack Army Hospital in Fayetteville, NC and returned to Duke as instructor and Chief of Neurology at VA hospital. After a year as Kennedy Professor of Mental Retardation at Peabody College and Vanderbilt University, George came to Columbus to join the OSU College of Medicine, Division of Neurology faculty in 1967. He became full professor and was elected Teacher of the Year in 1971. That same year he became Program Director of Neurology at Riverside Methodist Hospital, where he enjoyed a decade of private practice and was chosen 1975 Teacher of the Year. In 1983 George returned to OSU as Kurtz Professor and Chairman of Neurology (1983-91). He was founder and first chair of OSU's newly created Department of Neurology. His academic focus was in movement disorders, Parkinson's disease in particular, and he established a Parkinson's Center of Excellence and participated in numerous Parkinson's study groups. He played a key role in developing therapies for Parkinson's disease and related movement disorders, which had been mysterious and untreatable. He also organized the first international Huntington's disease conference in Columbus, which mobilized the field to discover the disease gene. His interests, though, were wide-ranging and included Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and mental retardation. He published over 300 articles and eight books, including a history of the OSU College of Medicine (1998). He was a Fellow in the American Academy of Neurology (first vice-president 1985) and the American Neurological Association. He was Chief of Staff at OSU 1991-93. He served as a leader on numerous national foundations and boards reflecting his varied interests. He received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from Duke Medical Center, Distinguished Service Award from OSU, and a Teaching award from the Alumni of OSU Medical Center. He received the Distinguished Faculty Award from OSU in 2009 and the Harry LeFever Award for Neuroscience in 2006. George is survived by his wife of 65 years, Ruth, whom he met one delightful summer working at Dorothea Dix Hospital; his sister Pat Gold of NYC; and five children - John (Barbara Hotchkiss), Erik (Kathy Merritt), Henry (Sarah), Chris (Diane Wiley) and Ruth Ann Castillo (Justin). George was particularly proud of his twelve grandchildren, (all without flaw): Thomas (Jordan General) and Rose Hotchkiss Paulson; Wesley, Luke and Kate Merritt Paulson; Claire Buss Paulson (Dan Thompson); Nick Wiley (Kelly) and Erin Ruth Wiley Paulson; and Grace, George, Alice and Annie Castillo. Throughout his life George enjoyed the camaraderie of groups and colleagues, including the Columbus Medical Forum, Medical Symposium, the Kit Kat Club, and Conestoga, and he served as president in each. Thanks to his wife he attended many musical and art events, even the opera (a bit reluctantly), for which he served on the Impresario Board. After retirement he delved more deeply into his love for history, writing medical history books on a range of topics: Arthur G. James – Surgeon with a Dream, In Pursuit of Excellence -- The Ohio State University Medical Center from 1834 to 2010, Closing the Asylums, and The Presidents – Their Health and Their Medical Care. He believed strongly in the power of words and was a voracious reader and prolific letter writer. He took special pleasure as history scholar in OSU's Medical Heritage Center. In retirement he also continued his medical service, as neurologist for the Free Clinic and consultant at Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare. Aside from his family, far more than anything else in his life he enjoyed patients, the human contacts and the search for a correct diagnosis and best therapy. Indeed his dreams in later years were almost always related to patient care, and patient care was second only to his beloved Ruth, the joy of his life. Special thanks to the medical staff at The James Cancer Hospital and Hospice of Central Ohio. Family will receive friends from 4-6 P.M. Tuesday, July 30 at SCHOEDINGER NORTHWEST CHAPEL, 1740 Zollinger Rd. Memorial service followed by reception will be held at 11 A.M. Wednesday, July 31, at Trinity Methodist Church, 1581 Cambridge Blvd., Upper Arlington. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Neurology Medical Education Fund #310809 at OSU Foundation 1480 W. Lane Ave. Columbus OH 43221; Medical Heritage Center Fund #305434 at Medical Heritage Center, 376 W. 10th Ave., Columbus OH 43210, or a charity of your choice. To share memories or condolences, please visit

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Published in The Columbus Dispatch from Jul. 27 to Jul. 28, 2019.
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10 entries
July 18, 2020
Dr. Paulson was the best doctor that I ever had & always will be. Very understanding. He gave me literature of my disease( myasthenia gravis.) He called me the bread lady. There will never be another one like him. He helped me through a very difficult time. I know that he is with God. THANK YOU DR. GEORGE PAULSON.
Sharon Francis
August 1, 2019
Very sorry to hear. He's was a great person. Prayers to the family. Jim Hays
July 31, 2019
I am so sorry to hear of Dr. Paulson's passing. He has always been a treasured mentor, a glowing exemplar for how one may best go about medicine and lifewith kind grace and dignity. I will smile as I remember him. We should all strive toward his example.
Amy Pope-Harman
July 30, 2019
Amy and I are deeply sorry to learn of his passing, and send the sincerest condolences and prayers to Ruth and the rest of the family. A remarkable and seminal figure in neurologic medicine and medical education, George was a friend, mentor and colleague to me as well as so many others in the department and in the community. He was a unique figure and will be sorely missed.
miles drake
July 29, 2019
George Paulson. Mentor, colleague,friend. Always a gentleman. George and a Ruth were a wonderful team.
Hugsand lveto you all.

Stephen Pariser
Stephen Pariser
July 29, 2019
Dr. George Paulson was the embodiment of the caring physician. His work interviewing medical leaders and focus on the history of the profession has set the example for the legacy committee of the Medical Heritage Center at Ohio State. His smile and affable demeanor will be missed by all that knew him. God bless his soul.
David Bahner
July 28, 2019
I would not have become a neurologist without Dr. George Paulson. I met him after my first year of medical school and he became a mentor immediately. He encouraged me to become a neurologist and made sure that I knew that with this field I would have the opportunity to constantly learn and change. In that light, he predicted as I was finishing training that I would probably change practices, focus about every 10 years...boy was he right.

He and Ruth also were perfect models for how to manage family and careers which was also so important to me. I still have the books he gave me with personal notes as well as many of the notes he sent me. For several years I have not been in Columbus to see him but have thought of him fondly often. He did have a full and exciting career; I could only hope to have half the impact on my patients, friends and family as he did.

Beth Walz
Spokane, WA
July 28, 2019
George was an inspiration to all and the finest of Southern gentlemen. He put his heart and soul into everything he did and was so admired and loved by all who knew him.
Ruth - I am saddened for your loss and I hope the memories of the 65 years you had together comfort you as you face the challenges of life without your soul mate.
Sandy Cornett
Sandra Cornett
July 28, 2019
There are not enough words in any language to describe his brillance, caring, humor, compassionate empathy for his patients, sparkle in his eye when speaking of his family,...
We all loved him, as his patients. His staff did, also. So many wonderful memories I have carried with me since he so successfully treated me over 20 years ago.
If only all doctors could be like him. If only all people could be like him.
LaNell Barrett
July 27, 2019
George was the epitome of a gracious gentleman - an extraordinary man of great kindness and an inspiration. He touched so many lives and did so with great humanity and caring.

Ruth, I am saddened for your loss. I admire you both so very much.

Love to you,
Donna Cavell
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