Bringing CNS Members Together to Make Children’s Lives Better


Theodore J. Tarby, MD, PhD (1941-2020)

Dr. Theodore J. Tarby was born and raised in Auburn, New York.  He matriculated at the California Institute of Technology, where he majored in biology.  This was followed by earning a PhD in anatomy at UCLA, with distinction. He then taught anatomy and neuroanatomy at the University of Colorado Medical School until he entered as a student and received his MD, Magna Cum Laude.  After training in Pediatrics in Denver, he completed his training in Child Neurology at Washington University/St Louis Children’s Hospital. During that time, he worked with Dr. Joseph Volpe, which greatly enhanced his knowledge, skills and interest in neonatal neurology.

Dr. Tarby then came to Phoenix and quickly established himself as a first rate neonatal and child neurologist. A short list of major contributions would include the following:

  • Played an instrumental role in the recognition of the existence of cerebellar damage in the cerebral palsy patients who survived extreme prematurity.
  • Developed a unique understanding of the role of in utero positioning in development of brachial plexus palsies.
  • Participated in defining the disorder of Athapascan Brain Stem Dysgenesis among the Navajo and Apache native Americans.

Dr. Tarby did all this and more while providing sensitive care to his patients. He was loved by them and their parents.

His colleagues in the Phoenix area have missed him since his retirement which was prompted by poor health. That loss seems greater now. We all appreciated his insights and his capacity for sharing them in such a congenial fashion. He was very involved in training Neurologists and Child Neurologists at the Barrow Neurological Institute while also devoting a great deal of time and effort to children with neurological disabilities from financially disadvantaged families. His rounds in the NICU were appreciated by all levels of the staff. 

Dr. Tarby is survived by his wife Andree, two children, and three grandchildren. He was a colleague truly worthy of our respect and memoriam.

Written and submitted by Stanley Johnsen, MD