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: www.greelyfuneralhome.com
Published by Boston Globe from Jul. 7 to Jul. 8, 2021.