Fisch, Robert O. Physician, artist and author, died at home on his 97th birthday. He was born in Budapest, Hungary, on June 12, 1925, and was the son of Zoltan and Iren Fisch. A survivor of the Holocaust, he was liberated by American soldiers from the Gunskirchen death camp in Austria in May, 1945. He returned to Budapest to earn a medical degree. Because he refused to join the Communist party, he was denied the ability to specialize and was banished to general practice in a mining village. An active participant in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, he escaped in 1957 and came to the University of Minnesota as a medical intern in 1958. For his heroism against Communist suppression, the Hungarian government awarded him a medal in 1995 and a knighthood in 2000. In 2019, he received the highest honor awarded by the Hungarian state, the Knight's Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit, for his contribution to Holocaust education. Robert was a professor of pediatric medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School until his retirement in 1997. He was internationally recognized for his clinical research in phenylketonuria (PKU) and for his pioneering PKU and child-development studies. Robert was the author or coauthor of more than 100 scientific papers. Over the years he cared for thousands of patients and their families, and trained and mentored hundreds of medical students. As a doctor and teacher, he combined science and creativity with a caring approach. A strong advocate of early childhood education and especially of the value of reading to children, he established Project Read, an initiative in which volunteers read and gave books to children in pediatric-clinic waiting rooms. Robert studied art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, the University of Minnesota and the Walker Art Center, and achieved a distinguished second career as a visual artist and author. He published five books; Light from the Yellow Star: A Lesson of Love from the Holocaust portrays his Holocaust experience, The Metamorphosis to Freedom is a testimonial to freedom, the value he treasured dearly, Dear Dr. Fisch: Children's Letters to a Holocaust Survivor is a selection of letters from the thousands he received from American and European students, Fisch Stories: Reflections on Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness is a collection of essays and memories, The Sky is Not the Limit is a collection of aphorisms. The book Light from the Yellow Star is provided to schools in the United States through the Yellow Star Foundation. A Hungarian version is used by schools in that country, and a German edition is distributed in Germany and Austria. The book emphasizes the need to learn from the Holocaust that we must remain human even in inhumane circumstances. Robert's paintings have been exhibited in the United States, Europe and Israel, including at the Weisman Art Museum and The Minneapolis Institute of Art. His last show, of new paintings, occurred in April, 2019. His painting Creation will hang in the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain at the University of Minnesota. In 2007, he established the Robert. O. Fisch Art of Medicine Awards for students at the University of Minnesota Medical School to pursue creative endeavors not otherwise possible in the medical school curriculum. The program, unique in the United States, has funded a wide array of interests, ranging from voice lessons to clown school. In 2020, the University of Minnesota Medical School established The Center for the Art of Medicine, which incorporates the Fisch Awards. Robert is survived by his daughter, Alex Fisch (Kurt Stevens) of Abiquiu, New Mexico; and wife, Karen Bachman. Preceded in death by his brother, Paul in 2012. At Robert's request, services will be held at the Jewish Memorial Cemetery in Budapest, where he will be interred with his father, who died in the Holocaust. Contributions in memory of Robert may be sent to the Yellow Star Foundation at Hodroff- Epstein 612-871-1234

Published on June 19, 2022