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February 7, 2008

In Memory, Gerhard Neubeck, 1918 - 2008


I knew Gerry for 18 years, since I arrived in Minnesota. He was already retired by the time I came, but his stamp on the department was legendary. One of his favorite activities was to participate in the pot luck luncheon that welcomed the new graduate students at the beginning of the academic year. He would always have a poem ready ... witty, pithy, and a bit corny ... but endearing. Gerry, you will be missed. Here's more information about his remarkable journey...

from the Family Social Science website: fsos.cehd.umn.edu

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our dear friend, colleague, and mentor Dr. Gerhard (Gerry) Neubeck. Gerry began his professional career at University of Minnesota in 1948 after already experiencing a lifetime of fortune and tumult.

As a Jewish teenager from Dortmund, Germany, Gerry nearly qualified for the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games in the 3000m run. Soon after, he realized he had to leave his home country. After immigrating to the United States with his wife Ruth in the late 1930s, Gerry became one of the nation’s foremost leaders in the fields of human sexuality and marriage and family therapy (MFT). He served terms as president both of the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) and the American Association of Marriage and Family Counselors (AAMFT). After graduating from Columbia University, he went on to accomplish a number of ‘firsts’ in his field. In the 1960s he taught the first college course on human sexuality.

Profiled in Look magazine, this course gained Gerry scores of attention for his work. He is credited for being the first to use group sessions for marriage therapy and also was the first to pen a book on the topic of extramarital affairs. In 1972 he joined the department of Family Social Science, where for many years he ran the marriage and family therapy program. Over the course of his tenure, Gerry was pivotal in training countless MFT experts including David Olson and Jim Maddock.

After retiring in 1986, Gerry and his wife Ruth spent much of their time keeping busy with their long-time hobbies. Gerry was a prolific writer of poetry and Ruth a potter (dubbed the “Poet and the Potter). Some of Gerry’s poetry has been published and crossed over into the academic world to appear in textbooks focusing on family relations. Since his retirement, Gerry has remained a regular around the department. He read his poetry at everything from new graduate student welcoming functions to faculty retirement parties. Gerry said during a 2004 interview: “Family social science has always stood on the strength of great faculty. Not only the talent of the faculty—including multiple NCFR and AAMFT presidents—but also the intimacy. The faculty has always been very close.� Gerry will be greatly missed.

Excerpt from Gerry’s poem, Affairs of the Heart, published in 1998:

I want to find me
that I lost long, long ago
when I was a child
in a world that was all grown up.
It would be nice indeed.
To become acquainted again
With that me, the me of my youth.

Here is a link to the obituary that ran in today's Star Tribune, complete with a photo of him running in the trials for the 1936 Olympics.

Posted by hgroteva at February 7, 2008 6:30 PM | In Memory / In Honor