Canyon Ranch – and I, personally – lost an inspiring, long-time friend on July 4, when Robert Butler, M.D., the immensely influential creator of the field of medical geriatrics, coiner of the term “ageism” and tireless advocate for older people and for healthy living, died of acute leukemia at the age of 83.
Bob, who has given many presentations on age and health at the resorts over the years, was scheduled to speak at Canyon Ranch in Lenox this month. He worked until three days before his death.
A widower since 2005, he is survived by his four daughters and six grandchildren.
Bob Butler was raised by his grandparents, who sparked in him a passionate lifelong interest in and affinity for older people. Out of his work as a psychiatrist, researcher and advocate came his Pulitzer Prize-winning Why Survive? Being Old in America in 1975.
He was the founding director of the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health, and later founded the International Longevity Center, which he still led at the time of his death. He gave countless speeches and testified before Congress and the U.N. about aging, healthy lifestyle and longevity.
Canyon Ranch hosted annual ILC roundtables on various topics for years. These brought together renowned experts, and we supported the production of white papers and educational materials that emerged from these meetings.
Bob loved what Canyon Ranch does and felt that we had the right approach to fostering successful longevity. He did trainings with Ranch staff and was an advocate and adviser for the development of programming that addresses aging. And he loved just being at the Ranch. We loved having him.
Enid and I and the whole Canyon Ranch family mourn the loss of a friend, colleague and true visionary. He will be terribly missed.