Dr. Robert Layzer

Obituary of Dr. Robert Layzer

Dr. Robert Layzer, 92, a distinguished neuromuscular specialist whose career spanned an impressive 67 years, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on Wednesday, June 12. He was renowned for his expertise in diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Myasthenia Gravis, dedicating his life to advancing medical knowledge and patient care in these challenging fields.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Hilary and Rhea (Volk) Layzer, Robert was educated in the Ohio school system prior to being accepted by Harvard College on a full academic scholarship. Education was important in the Layzer household, and its value was not lost on Robert or his brothers. After graduating from Harvard with a degree in French literature, he immediately enrolled in Harvard Medical School. He had an insatiable curiosity and a passion for learning. Robert’s love for books, art, movies, music, and culture was evident throughout his life. His favorite subject was history, and he possessed an extraordinary wealth of knowledge about numerous historical events and subjects. He was also an accomplished poet, first as an undergraduate, and then in his retirement years. His quick wit, sharp humor and strong opinions endeared him to many, making conversations with him both enlightening and entertaining.

While at Harvard Medical School, he met the love of his life, Anne Reed Harwood, who was then attending Radcliffe College. The couple’s shared values and commitment to public service brought them together while volunteering at an Adlai Stevenson campaign office. Their union was marked by deep love and partnership, lasting through decades of marriage and the joy of raising their children.
Robert was an eminent professor at the UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco, California, where he trained residents and ran a clinical practice. His classic textbook, Neuromuscular Manifestations of Systemic Disease, was published in 1984.  A man of high integrity and upstanding demeanor, Robert instilled these values in his children, guiding them with the principles he held dear. His professional achievements took him across the globe, from Europe, his favorite travel destination, to as far as Australia and Israel. Yet, it was his unwavering dedication to his work and family that defined his legacy.

Robert’s life was a testament to the power of curiosity, compassion, and integrity. He will be deeply missed by his family, friends, colleagues, and the countless patients whose lives he touched.

He was predeceased by his brothers, David Layzer of Belmont, MA., and Arthur Layzer of New York.

Robert is survived by the love of his life Anne Layzer of Burlington, his loving children, Robin Hayden of Greenfield, MA, Katherine Layzer and her husband Donald Johnson of Waltham, MA, and Philip Layzer and his wife Georgie of Alameda, CA; grandchildren Owen Hayden, Elinor Hayden, Faith Ross, Sam Rothenberg, and Sofia Layzer; and several nieces and nephews.

At his request, all funeral services will be private and at the convenience of his family. Arrangements are by the Edward V. Sullivan Funeral Home, 43 Winn St. Burlington, MA 01803

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