Dr. Gordon Watters, esteemed colleague, and friend to many, died on April 4, 2022. Dr. Watters was a longtime member of the Child Neurology Society and recipient in 2007 of its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dr. Watters was born in Winnipeg in 1928. He attended college at the University of Minnesota, captained the Gopher hockey team, and was named to the All-American team in 1951. Following a year of playing semipro hockey for the San Francisco Shamrocks, he had to decide whether to play professional hockey or concentrate on academics; he opted for the latter, returning to his studies and graduating Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Psychology.
Gordon attended medical school at the University of Manitoba, then completed an internship at Winnipeg General Hospital and a pediatric residency at Winnipeg Children’s Hospital and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Following a year of pathology training, he entered The University of Chicago’s child neurology training program and studied under Douglas Buchanan (1960-63).
Following training, Dr. Watters returned to Winnipeg before moving back to the University of Chicago, then on to Boston Children’s Hospital where, along with Charles Barlow, he formed a training program and established himself as a gifted educator. In 1969, he was recruited back to Canada, this time to the Montreal Children’s Hospital and McGill University, where he spent the remainder of his career. His academic work focused on CSF and CSF dynamics and included the clinical fields of hydrocephalus and cerebral edema. He also contributed to the understanding of the childhood presentation of established neurological disorders including hereditary neuropathies, dermatomyositis, neurological complications of systemic illness and epilepsy.
Dr. Watters rose to the rank of full professor in both Pediatrics and Neurology/Neurosurgery. He was Division and Program Director for 25 years and participated in the training of many successful and transformative leaders in Child Neurology, some of whom are shown below in a photo taken at the 2007 CNS Annual Meeting in Quebec City. His impact extended to his work in both Canada and the United States. He retired in 2007 to spend time with his wife and family.
In addition to the 2007 CNS Lifetime Achievement Award, Dr. Watters was honored in 2019 by the Canadian Association of Child Neurology. As Michael Shevell noted in Child Neurology: Its Origins, Founders, Growth and Evolution (2021, ed. Ashwal), Gordon’s hockey career was legendary, culminating in induction into the University of Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame in 2003. His career as a child neurologist is equally legendary, making him “A Hall of Famer in both worlds”.
A full tribute, written by Dr. Shevell, will be posted on the CNS website’s “Calling/In Memoriam” section later this month.
Bruce H. Cohen, MD