Vienna, Austria, birthplace of Phil Lippe, was suffering the chaotic 1930’s, the interregnum between World Wars I and II. Hitler’s Germany had invaded and occupied Austria in 1938, and that nation subsequently suffered the ravages of Kristallnacht November 9-10. It was that year at age 9 the Lippe family escaped Austria via the Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas and Atlantic Ocean to reach America and Chicago, Illinois. To that city family members previously had immigrated. Phil Lippe’s parents, father (violinist) and mother (pianist), both had graduated from the prestigious Vienna Conservatory of Music. In Chicago Phil’s father became Concert Master for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Phil attended Loyola University College of Arts and Science, Pre-Med Program, Evanston IL 1947-1950 and University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, IL, 1950-1954. He earned a B.S. degree in Medicine, 1952 and MD with High Honors, 1954 [magna cum laude, first in class].
From 1956-1958 Phil served as a Captain U.S.A.F. (M.C.) and Chief, Department, Department of Surgery, Walker AFB (SAC), Roswell, New Mexico.
Phil then became a neurosurgeon under the guidance of Professor Eric Oldberg (1959-1962) at the Neuropsychiatric Institute, Research & Education Hospitals, University of Illinois, Chicago IL. Doctor Oldberg was a neurosurgeon trained by the historic “Father of Neurosurgery” Doctor Harvey Cushing, in Boston MA.
In 1963 he began his very active neurosurgical private practice in San Jose, CA, was certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery (1965) and American Board of Pain Medicine (1992). After a disruptive myocardial infarction in 1993 he transferred his entire professional attention and exceptional service to multifarious medical organizations, local, state and national.
Academic Appointments over his career have been at the University of Illinois, Chicago (1962-1963), and Stanford University Department of Neurological Surgery (1965-2006), concluding as a Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery.
His active membership and leadership roles in professional organizations are legion over his career. They include major Medical Associations and Societies (7), Pain Medicine Associations and Societies (6), Neurosurgery Associations and Societies (4), Associations and Societies in Surgery (3), Physician Executives (1), Neurology (1) and Neuroimaging (1). Amazing total: #23 major medical organizations!!! In all these organizations he served in many executive roles, including most as Director and President among other positions.
Philipp Lippe, MD is regarded as Father of Pain Medicine, establishing this discipline as a medical specialty in the United States with full representation in all medical associations. He established and led a pain center associated with O’Connor Hospital in San Jose, CA. He developed the branding terminology “Eudynia,” “Maldynia” and Algiatry. He was instrumental in creating and establishing the Decade of Pain, 2001-2010, signed into law by President Clinton.
In support of all his organizational activities he maintained an active role in the Santa Clara County Medical Association, the California Medical Association and American Medical Association, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and was founding member of the California Association of Neurological Surgeons (1973) and American Academy of Pain Medicine. In each national, state and local organization he advanced his historic quest of establishing pain medicine as an important medical specialty. At his local Good Samaritan Hospital he provided continuing wise counsel on a monthly basis to the medical staff until his ultimate demise.
As years passed Phil became less ambulatory, but he continued his organizational contributions in administrative and consultive roles. He accomplished these feats late in his storied career only with the enormous logistic support of his truly inspirational, supportive, saintly wife Gail, who enabled and extended his continued service beyond his late-onset physical locomotor impairments.
Phil Lippe confided with me his personal awe and gratitude that his mental acuity and perspicacity remained intact forever, despite the gradual failure over the last decade of his other human physical endowments. Throughout his life and career as a neurosurgeon he has directed his bountiful human capacities to improving his medical profession under the duress and entanglements of countless efforts to obstruct his goals.
His last request of me shortly before his passing was “Don, please help me.” This request defied potential for fulfillment. His time on earth had elapsed. He had suffered a major complication during cardiac valve surgery.
Philipp Lippe’s lifetime corpus of accomplishments reflected the consummate, rightful role of professionalism and concern in the care of patients. His experience of dismissive, terminal mismanagement reveals the major, ultimate challenge lying ahead in the evolution of federalized healthcare in America.
Hats off, my good friend, for your struggles, your historic accomplishments, your friendship, paternalism and pervasive joy and optimism in combating the battles of our profession.
All neurosurgeons and their families who have had the honor of knowing Philipp Maria Lippe, MD remain in awe of his talents, his immense contributions and are eternally grateful for his friendship and inspirational career as the ultimate physician and inspirational professional.
Answer: Emus are super birds that cannot fly and depend for a future on adoption by super humans, who soar.
Gail remains in charge of the herd of emus she and Phil have adopted and guardian of eternal memories.
-Donald J. Prolo, MD