1934 - 2021
Greely Funeral Home
212 Washington Street
Gloucester, MA
CAVINESS, Verne Strudwick Jr. M.D., D.Phil. Distinguished Professor of Neurology Emeritus, Harvard University Verne Caviness died peacefully in his home in Rockport, MA on July 6, 2021. He was born on July 25, 1934, in Raleigh, North Carolina, the son of the late Alice Webb Caviness and Verne Strudwick Caviness, MD. He was educated in the Raleigh Public Schools and graduated from Needham Broughton High School in 1952. He spent his summers farming and clearing land in the sweltering heat, which prepared him for the hard work he would enjoy throughout his life. He majored in English Literature at Duke University and graduated with honors in 1956. He earned a doctorate at Oxford in 1960, and an MD from Harvard in 1962. On completion of clinical training in internal medicine and in neurology at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, he served as a Captain and Chief of Neurology to the Air Force Hospital in Tachikawa, Japan (1967-69).

He went on to have a brilliant career in neurologic research and in clinical neurology, seeing pediatric and adult patients at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Over the years, his passion for teaching was recognized with numerous teaching awards. He served as the Director of Pediatric Neurology and the Director of the Center for Morphometric Analysis at Massachusetts General Hospital. Over the span of his academic career, he was successively, Joseph & Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Child Neurology & Mental Retardation, Giovanni Armenise Professor of Neurology, and Giovanni Armenise Distinguished Professor of Neurology Emeritus at Harvard Medical School. In retirement, he established the Verne S. Caviness Endowed Scholar in Pediatric Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

In 1962, Verne married Madeline Viva Harrison, an English girl whom he had met in the University of Perugia in Italy. He shared the rest of his life with her and delighted in her reputation as an historian of medieval art and feminist theorist. He is also survived by their two daughters, Gwendoline Caviness and her husband Matthew Derby of California and Chantal Caviness, MD and her husband Gregory Chamitoff of Texas; and three grandchildren, Madison Caviness-Derby, Dimitri Caviness Chamitoff and Natasha Caviness Chamitoff. His surviving sister, Alice Caviness Hardy and husband Richard, and their daughters, Cameron Ellerbe and Katherine Connell, are in Raleigh.

Not only was Verne a dedicated family man and brilliant neurologist and researcher, but he was also an enthusiastic scholar of language, music, and culture. He was an avid reader and a linguist who read extensively in Italian, French, German, and Japanese. He enjoyed classical music and opera. He traveled extensively. He was an athlete who excelled in basketball and football in his high school days and continued to run and lift weights into his 80's. He loved the ocean, especially around Rockport, Massachusetts, where he spent his leisure time scuba diving and boating with family and friends.

Verne was a good person who was interested in the people and world around him. His bright smile, deep laugh, and joy for life will be dearly missed by all those who were lucky to know him.

The Funeral will be private. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the Shalin Liu Performance Center, 37 Main Street, Rockport, MA 01966. Arrangements are by the Greely Funeral Home, 2112 Washington St., GLOUCESTER, MA. Online condolences may be given at:
Published by Boston Globe from Jul. 7 to Jul. 8, 2021.
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July 2021 Dear Madeline: We will all miss Verne, but you, the most. Thank you for helping me to connect with Verne on the telephone several months ago. The three of us had a lovely chat about the MGH, and about "the old days". I will always remember it. With love and appreciation, Peter Barrett HMS 1960 ----------------------------------------------------------------
Peter V. Barrett, MD
July 18, 2021
Dr. Caviness took care of two of my kids, from about 2012 til his retirement. He has always been a hero in this household because he got our younger son's terrible cycling vomiting under control. We so appreciated his warmth and his friendly manner during office visits, at the same time that we were bowled over by his expertise and knowledgeability. The world is diminished by his passing. We will always remember him.
Elizabeth Sutherland
July 15, 2021
He was my first really qualified doctor on the subject after I was diagnosed with epilepsy in the 1970s as a young teenager. Many others can speak to his accomplishments. For me, I remember that he took my questions seriously, and helped me in a difficult period of my life. In those days, when bias against those with epilepsy was rampant, he treated me like a human. May he RIP.
Shawn McHale
July 15, 2021
Betty Wexler and family
July 10, 2021
So saddened to hear of Verne´s passing. An amazing person throughout his life. He contributed in so many ways to make the world a better place.
Betty A Wexler
July 9, 2021
To Madeline and the family. Verne was unique and lived with a quiet elegance and deep commitment to the understanding of brain development and neurological disease. The years that he and I taught the neuroscience course at Harvard are among my fondest memories. He shall be sorely missed
Michael Shelanski
July 8, 2021
Today´s announcement in the New York Times obituary page of Verne Caviness death exploded with over a half-century of memories reaching back to first meeting Verne as a freshman advisor when I entered Thayer Middle in Harvard Yard. Over the next decade, he was always generous in providing a sounding board to a young man developing his intellectual base through Harvard Medical School. We would meet more frequently when I was a neurology resident at Massachusetts General Hospital and the touches would be less often with moving to different institutions and being dependent on the Brownian motion of contacts at different annual Neurology meetings. Verne´s impact on everyone became more apparent when I was speaking in Japan in 1998. At the first night´s dinner, there were many friends from their times at the National Institutes of Health. The second night´s meeting was a traditional Kaiseki dinner attended by members of the Japanese-American Neurological group sponsored by Verne at the Tachikawa US Air Force Medical Center. Everyone wanted to know more about what Verne was doing and to let it be known how meaningful his interaction with them had been in forming their career goals. I was amazed by the diligent intelligence that went into providing for this wonderful bit of nostalgia for his Japanese friends and for me. I shared the quaintness of this moment with Verne at one of our annual chats and saw him look deeply over my shoulder at a warm memory from his youth. With mist in our eyes, we recognize all the human, intellectual and medical contributions by Verne that allow us to celebrate a life well lived.
Benjamin Rix Brooks MD
July 8, 2021
Dear Family of Verne, My husband was such a fan of Verne's, and speaks so highly of him. We are so incredibly sorry for your loss. Verne had a huge impact on so many people. Sending prayers for your comfort, and strength to the family - Nicole Sahin
July 8, 2021
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