Dr. Judson B. Reaney's obituary
Dr. Judson Reaney pumped his fist and the cane in his hand after climbing Little Devils Tower in South Dakota, his home state, a few months ago. He wasn't feeling well that day, but he wouldn't have told you that.
He was determined to stay fit enough to make the trek with friends with whom he had climbed to the summit before, despite that fact that he and another friend had been diagnosed with cancer.
"I think he would like to be remembered by the relationships he had," said his wife, Susan. "He really cared about people."
Reaney, 62, a behavioral and developmental physician, died Feb. 24 at Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park.
"[He was] one of the most spiritual people I know," said Dr. David Abelson, CEO at Park Nicollet, where Reaney worked at the Alexander Center for Child Development and Behavior since 1993. "When I was with him, he was just really present for me ... he made space for me to be who I was, and he made space for everyone around him to be who they were."
Reaney worked with children with developmental disorders, such as autism, to help them and their families "not only cope but actually grow," Abelson said.
In addition, "he helped the people helping patients and families" rediscover the meaning in their work through a professional renewal program, Abelson said. He helped establish the practice of "Schwartz Rounds" at Methodist Hospital to help clinicians address the emotional aspects of their profession. It was his "big last passion," his wife said.
Several months after his cancer diagnosis, he spoke to 300 colleagues about his struggles as a doctor who became a patient. "You usually don't find people doing vulnerable things like that at a hospital," his wife said. "People were rapt and deeply touched."
Sue and Jud Reaney married in 1973, two years after they met at the University of South Dakota, where he attended medical school and she finished her undergraduate degree in special education. With $400 in their pockets, they moved to San Francisco, lived on food stamps and baked their own bread. After settling back in the Midwest, they took in 14 students and teachers in need of temporary housing when their daughter, Kathryn (Kat), now 32, was young.
Sue Reaney said he was always whistling, had a beautiful tenor voice and was a skilled cook. He was known for his twinkling eyes, a full heart, and for finding the sacred in the ordinary, family and friends said.
In addition to his wife and daughter, both of St. Paul, Reaney is survived by his parents, Duane and Kathryn Reaney, and two sisters, Joan Loecker and Jan Merriman, both of Colorado Springs, Colo. He was preceded in death by twin sons Brooks Charles and Andrew John.
Services were held Saturday at Plymouth Congregational Church, where he had been an active member.
Kaitlyn Walsh is a University of Minnesota journalism student on assignment for the Star Tribune.
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