Helene Horwitz of St. Louis Park, an administrator at the University of Minnesota Medical School, saved many budding medical careers by helping students through life's rough patches.

Horwitz, who began her career as a college teacher, historian and academic adviser, died of brain cancer on Oct. 24 at her home.

She was 66.

She grew up in the New York City borough of Queens and earned bachelor's and master's degrees in history. In the 1960s, she married and raised a family.

For a dozen years, she was an administrator for Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, mostly at the School of Medicine. In 1978, she received a doctorate in higher education from SIU.

She moved to the Twin Cities in the early 1980s, and worked in leadership posts at the Minnesota Medical Foundation.

In 1989, she joined the faculty of the U's Medical School, rising to associate dean of student affairs in 1992, and serving in the post until her death.

"It takes a special kind of person, like Helene, to provide the kind of relationship that medical students need," said Dr. Deborah Powell, dean of the Medical School.

Horwitz's job made her responsible for most aspects of the student experience, and required her to know 230 medical students per year for 19 years.

In the medical profession, the dean's letter is an iconic essential for gaining a residency, and she wrote them all.

"What a legacy of doctors, whose lives were touched by Helene," Powell said.

Medical students came to her with their academic, financial or personal problems. And she guided them to stand on their own.

Horwitz worked with Dr. Michael Mauer on the Medical School's Committee on Student Scholastic Standing.

"The rate of failure of medical students is quite low, not in any small part due to her efforts," said Mauer, a professor of pediatrics at the Medical School.

Problems and low grades are usually a new and devastating experience for a medical student, and she understood their egos were bruised.

Often she could fix the problem, said Mauer.

"Literally hundreds and hundreds of students are grateful for her interventions," he said.

Dr. Jim Suel, an emergency room physician in Boston, was class president while in Medical School, and she guided him in his extracurricular duties, and in his selection of his medical specialty.

She was "wise" and had "common sense," said Suel, a longtime friend. "Working together was just great fun right from the start. She was a straight talker, and was approachable."

Horwitz had two golden retrievers, and in 2006, began playing golf. She made progress, but preferred socializing with other rookies, struggling with the game.

She is survived by her husband, Dr. Charles Horwitz of St. Louis Park; daughter, Karyn Rudnick of St Paul; sons, Martin Rudnick of Minneapolis, and Michael Rudnick of New York City; former husband, Hans Rudnick of Carbondale, Ill., and four grandchildren.

Services have been held.