Jerome Meyer Grunes, M.D. (1925-2018)

Obituary re-posted from the Chicago Psychoanalytic Society

 

Jerome Meyer Grunes, M.D., former President of the Chicago Psychoanalytic Society and former faculty member at the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute, died on October 25th, 2018 from cancer. A member of the "Greatest Generation," Jerry was born in Brooklyn May 11, 1925. He graduated Thomas Jefferson High School at age 16. His high school yearbook wrote of him, "Is that the Aurora Borealis? No, that’s Grunes' brilliance shining."

He was a Private 1st Class, 488th Light Engineering Battalion, which preceded the front line. As Jerry was among the first at the liberation of Dachau and spoke Yiddish, camp survivors were able to tell him of their experiences. Their sharing their stories with someone who empathized with the "incomprehensible" was the moment Jerry’s life was decided. He knew he would become a psychoanalyst.

On the G.I. Bill, he received his BA from Brooklyn College and went on to receive his MA in Psychology from Columbia University and his M.D. from State University of New York Medical College. He completed his internship at Boston City Hospital and psychiatric residency at Michael Reese Hospital. He received his Psychoanalytic Certificate from the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. He was Director of Residency Training at Chicago State Hospital from 1956-1958 and Director of Psychiatric Services at Drexel Home for the Aged from 1954-1981. With his participation, a documentary was filmed at Drexel Home called "Home for Life" which illustrated challenges faced by aging individuals.

He pursued helping those in need, including working as a Psychiatric Consultant at United Charities and the Council for the Jewish Elderly. Academically he was Senior Attending Psychiatrist at Michael Reese Hospital, where he developed their program for the aged; and Associate Professor at Northwestern University and Evanston Hospital. He co-founded a PhD program in Gerontology at Northwestern University. His honorary positions include: Life Member of the American Psychiatric Association and American Psychoanalytic Association, Fellow of the American College of Psychoanalysis, the International Psychoanalytic Association, and the American Gerontological Association. A pioneer in the field of gerontology and in using psychoanalysis in the treatment of older adults, he published numerous books and chapters. He felt strongly that all people should have access to psychoanalytic care. People who work with older adults, he explained, have a strong attachment to older people in their lives (as was the case with Jerry), or those who denied their own aging process.

He continued to work until age 92. He never hesitated to stand up for his beliefs and to give a voice to those oppressed. He proudly marched with the Reverend Martin Luther King and supported unions and social causes. Family holidays would often be trips to war-ravaged countries. He was a lover of all arts, both contemporary and ancient, and an ardent Savoyard. "Good art," he explained, "should be pretty, but great art should stir something deep inside you and make you dizzy." He was a great lover of literature and a poet himself. Botany was another great passion, from planting a Rose of Sharon in the cracks of the sidewalk on Alabama Avenue, Brooklyn, to visiting the great gardens of the world and tending to his own extraordinary garden.

He is survived by his beloved five children, Allen Grunes, Reba Kraus-Georgiadis, Tina Olander, Louis Kraus and Dorothy Grunes, his 11 treasured grandchildren, Marissa, Avi, Natalie, Claire, Suzanna, Noah, Ethan, Natalie, Noah, Madeline and Beatrix. He is also survived by his beloved nieces and nephews Carol Kornsweig, Helen Shor Grunes, Evan Mayerhoff, Helen Mayerhoff, Marc Mayerhoff, Perle Moreau and Neftali Espar, Lisa Maniff and Jeffrey Maniff. He leaves behind his great love, his wife of 50 years, Barbara Joan Grunes, a love which words cannot capture.

 "A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once."

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