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Patrick R. Staunton M.D.

December 31, 1969 June 9, 2013
Patrick R. Staunton M.D.
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Obituary for Patrick R. Staunton M.D.

International travel has changed a bit since July 1952, when Pat Staunton first came to Chicago. His trip lasted more than two weeks, and it included a train to Cork, a two-week boat trip on the Britannic, from Cork to New York, and a 22-hour train ride on the New York Central, from New York to Chicago. And, just for good measure, when Pat arrived at Union Station, the two Mercy Hospital interns who greeted him took him not to Lytton House - the residence at 2700 S. Prairie for Mercy Hospital doctors in training - but directly to the hospital to complete his first shift. Although Dr. Staunton was the first in his family to come to the United States, he was far from the first to practice medicine. Michael Douglas Staunton, his father, had served as the "Dispensary Doctor" in Pat's home town of Swinford, County Mayo, in the West of Ireland, from his 1910 medical school graduation until his abrupt death in 1957.The family home - the "Deanery" -- housed the "surgery," where Dr. Staunton's doors were open to all and where he did everything, it seems, but surgery. Pat Staunton, born in 1928 as the fourth of six children born to Michael Douglas Staunton and Ursula (Mellett) Staunton, grew up watching his father deliver babies, treat tuberculosis, set broken legs, and, in some cases, advise the family to call the priest. Pat and his three brothers, and two sisters, all went into the family business, attending medical school in Dublin, and pursuing careers as physicians. All but Tom, who remained in County Mayo, emigrated from Ireland - three to England and two to the United States. Dr. Staunton died June 9, 2013 after a fourteen-month battle with brain cancer. The wake will be at Drechsler, Brown & Williams in Oak Park on June 14, from 4-9 p.m. The funeral service will be held June 15 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Catherine of Siena in Oak Park. Dr. Staunton's career in Chicago coincided with the civil rights movement and its parallel in psychiatry. He came of age as a physician at a time when Thorazine was first being used to treat severe mental illness and President Kennedy had accelerated the move toward deinstitutionalization through his passage of the Community Mental Health Centers Act in 1963. Amidst the complex efforts that followed, Dr. Staunton followed his Swinford roots of community commitment to friends and neighbors. Bridging perspectives from neuroscience, psychoanalysis, emerging psychotherapies and the spectrum of others on a social mission, he stayed grounded by keeping in mind the principles reflected in the famous statement of physician and humanitarian, Dr. Francis Peabody: "The secret to the care of the patient is in caring for the patient." From 1959-1993, Dr. Staunton's career involved nearly every aspect of the treatment of the mentally ill. Following his training at Mercy and Cook County Hospitals, and Chicago State Hospital (Read), he served as a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy before joining the recently built Illinois State Psychiatric Institute (ISPI) - the State of Illinois psychiatric research hospital responsible for much of the advanced research conducted in psychiatry in Illinois in the 1960s and 1970's - as the so-called "Loyola Floor" director. In 1969, Dr. Staunton was recruited by the Ogilvie administration to serve as Regional Administrator with authority over all Department of Mental Health facilities, institutions, and community psychiatry and mental health programs in the Chicago area. In 1973, Governor Walker appointed him Deputy Director of the Illinois Department of Mental Health. He also served in 1975 as Director of Psychiatry at the Hines Veterans Administration Hospital. In 1976, he was recruited by Dr. Lester Rudy, the Chairman of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois and former Director at ISPI, to help develop Lutheran General Hospital's Psychiatry residency program. He served as Lutheran General's Psychiatry Department Chair from 1979 until his retirement in 1993. He continued teaching until 2005, his favorite course being "The History of Psychiatry." Dr. Staunton has also served on numerous boards and commissions, including the Guardianship and Advocacy Commission, and the Family Service of Oak Park, a non-profit dedicated to community mental health services. He served as President of the Illinois Psychiatric Society. And he was an active member of the American Psychiatric Association(APA) throughout his career, beginning in the 1960's as part of the National Institute of Mental Health's National Community Psychiatry program, and in particular through his contributions to the APA's Ethics Committee. In 2004, he was awarded the Assembly Warren Williams Speaker's Award by the APA for outstanding contributions in psychiatry and mental health. He was also a Fellow of the American College of Psychiatrists, and he served for many years as an Examiner for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Above all, Pat Staunton was a devoted husband, brother, father, grandfather, uncle and friend. His Irish charm, quick mind and compassionate connection, eased the path to finding common ground with people. With a long memory of the many stories that came before, he listened with interest, eager to solve problems, congratulate or empathize. A tough competitor on or off the tennis court, he was also respectful and gracious and he always made space for another's point of view. Pat was an avid historian, political junkie, and Chicago sports fan who loved to spark a good debate. He might as easily contribute a keen intellectual insight or a provocative question. Passionate about Yeats, his family and friends will long remember his ability to recite long passages of the poet's work. Patrick was also a long-time parishioner of St. Catherine of Siena on Austin Blvd., in Oak Park. Unlike the last generation, only one of Dr. Staunton's six children went into medicine. Mary Staunton is a psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, in Walnut Creek, California. Patrick Staunton is also survived by his wife, Nancy - who has also had a long career in public service, including two terms as a Village Trustee in Oak Park -his daughters Jane (Max Nibert) and Anne, and his sons Kevin (Maria Christu), Brian (Elizabeth Van Thorre), and Tom. He is also survived by his brother Vin, who lives in Southern California, and his sister Carmel, who lives in London. His other brother brothers and sisters - Dudley, Moira, and Tom - have all passed. Pat is also survived by seven grandsons - Jack, Kyle, Will, Luke, Van, Kevin and Finn. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to Rainbow Hospice, 1550 Bishop Court, Mount Prospect, IL 60056.

Service:

Saturday, June 15 10:30 a.m.

St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy Church 38 N. Austin Blvd. Oak Park, IL



Visitation:

Friday, June 14 4-9 p.m.

Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home

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