Ralph Walter Richter M.D.
1931 - 2021
Bixby, OK
Ralph Walter Richter, M.D.

April 18, 1931 – May 28th, 2021

Dr. Ralph Walter Richter was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, to Marguerite and Rudolph Richter, who had immigrated to the United States from Magdeburg, Germany. Dr. Richter completed his undergraduate education at Columbia University, where he spent his senior year studying at Union Theological Seminary, followed by his medical education at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and his residency at The Neurological Institute of New York. He served in the U.S. Navy as a Lieutenant Commander at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Oakland, California.

Following completion of Dr. Richter's medical training, he served as assistant dean of Columbia Medical School under H. Houston Merritt, M.D., who was then dean. A person of deep faith, Dr. Richter felt it was important to help underserved and at-risk patients and he asked Dr. Merritt to assign him to work part time at Harlem Hospital. He established the hospital's Department of Neurology and was its first director. He built a department that focused on caring for patients, as well as teaching students and resident physicians. He guided the department to respond to critical medical needs in Harlem, including an epidemic of heroin usage and alcohol dependency. In response to the medically devastating consequences of uncontrolled hypertension, he helped create a Regional Stroke Program, which was federally funded and one of the nation's leading treatment programs. Dr. Richter was concurrently on the faculty of Columbia University's Neurological Institute and rose to full professor of Neurology.

In 1975 he left Columbia University to help establish the medical school at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma and was the school's Director of the Neurology Division and Clinical Professor of Neurology. He later became a Clinical Professor in the departments of Neurology and Psychiatry at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. A nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's disease, he was a distinguished speaker and author or co-author of over 150 papers and editor of several books on the medical aspects of drug abuse and Alzheimer's disease. He led ground-breaking research into advanced therapeutic drugs through his company, Tulsa Clinical Research LLC, which was a center for clinical research in neuropsychiatric and behavioral disorders. He also had a private practice of neurology in Tulsa for almost forty-five years.

Throughout his lengthy medical career, he was a dedicated and compassionate physician and was a renowned diagnostician. He loved neurology and his patients, but he also considered himself a teacher and mentor to young physicians. He believed greatly in the power of faith in patient outcomes and felt counseling patients to be his most important calling. He received multiple honors for his commitment to medical organizations, including his service as a board member of the Tulsa City-County Health Department, Director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Unit at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, and Board of Visitors of the University of Oklahoma College of Public Health. He completed a residency in psychiatry in 1992 at the University of Oklahoma so that he could better understand the psychiatric implications of neurological diseases. He continued to counsel patients until he retired in 2019 to pursue his love of reading history and poetry.

Dr. Richter is survived by his loving wife, Julia Craft Richter; daughters, Kimberly Richter Shirley (Jon) of Medina, Washington, Amy Richter Bankhead (Roy) of Nichols Hills, Oklahoma, and Victoria Richter of Dallas, Texas; stepson, Dan McClain of Dallas, Texas; stepdaughter, Amy Craft Vineyard (Jack) of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma; and grandsons, William Bankhead and Christopher Bankhead of Nichols Hills, Oklahoma. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Karen Lee Richter. The family would like to thank Christy Lisenbee and Sadie Fuller for all their love and support through the years.
Published by Tulsa World on May 30, 2021.
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12 Entries
Sorry to hear if the loss of a great Doctor. Dr. Richter helped my wife Alma during her battle with Alzheimers. He gave her hope when there was little that could be done with this dreaded disease. He will be sorely missed.
Ken Hayes
July 1, 2021
I was privileged to know Ralph both as his student and as his teacher. He gave wonderful case presentations to psychiatrists (my field), helping us learn neurologic aspects of psychiatric care. Later, I was able to return the favor to some degree, serving as his supervising attending during his clinical psychiatric training. His lifelong dedication to teaching, caring for people, research, and learning was inspirational.
Dean Martin, MD
June 12, 2021
I am a geriatric psychiatrist today because of Dr. Richter. He taught, mentored and supported me throughout my residency and introduced me to the joy of working with patients with dementia and their families. I was working with him on 9/11 and will never forget that day. Your life made such a difference, Dr. Richter!
Kirsten Matthews Wilkins, MD
June 6, 2021
What an amazing life! So sorry Amy, Roy, William and Christopher and to all in your family. Wishing you all peace.
Kyle Sweet
June 2, 2021
I have known Dr. Richter for 30 years. Amazing man & physician. He truly loved research & helping Alzheimer´s pts. RIP
Ella Beall
June 2, 2021
Ralph Richter was a friend, mentor and a beautiful person. He will be missed.
Marcus James Fidel, MD
June 2, 2021
Sending love and prayers!
Diana Hampton MD
June 1, 2021
I am so sorry to see of Dr Ritcher passing. He was a great Dr for my mother Betty J Green before she passed away. Praying for his family. Priscilla Green Davidson
Priscilla Green Davidson
May 31, 2021
Dr. Richter was very knowledgeable in his work. Very respected. Will be missed. Much love to his family. Former SJMC nurse.
Sheryl Spillers
May 30, 2021
Amy, Kim & family. Thoughts & prayers are with you all. What a remarkable contribution your father made. Love
May 30, 2021
So sorry to learn of the passing of Dr Richter. An absolute brilliant man. A giver not a taker. He cared so much for so many including our son Roman who he cared for many years. He has a big legacy to follow. Please know that the siegfried family of prayers are with all the family at this difficult time.
Robin Siegfried
May 30, 2021
Great Man!!
Kerry Freeman
May 30, 2021
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