In Memoriam: William Kuenneth Schubert

1926 - 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

William Kuenneth Schubert, MD, died on Feb. 25, 2012.

These few stark words can’t begin to contain the enormity of the man – his leadership, his brilliance, his integrity, compassion and sense of humor – or the loss to his family, to Cincinnati Children’s and the community as a whole.

He was a gentle physician, a wise mentor and a pioneer. He was quiet and unassuming, but he always listened with thoughtful consideration and asked the important questions. His impact as a husband, father and friend is immeasurable. His work as a physician, researcher and advocate for children make him revered and beloved by all.

Schubert was born in Cincinnati, OH, on July 12, 1926, to Wilfred and Amanda Schubert. He was the oldest of three boys (his brothers were Robert and James). After graduating from Walnut Hills High School in 1944, he enrolled at the University of Cincinnati, intending to study medicine. His time there was cut short when he was drafted into the Navy later that year.

Following his military service, he returned to UC, entering the College of Medicine in 1949 and graduating in 1952.

Schubert began his residency in pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s in 1953. From 1956 to 1963, he was in private practice. During this time, he also served as an instructor to pediatricians at the UC College of Medicine and as a senior research associate at the Children’s Hospital Research Foundation. In 1963, he left private practice and joined Cincinnati Children’s faculty as an associate professor of pediatrics and director of the Clinical Research Center.

He established the Division of Gastroenterology in 1968 -- only the second pediatric gastroenterology division in the US. He went on to hold nearly every major leadership position at the medical center, including chief of staff, director of the pediatric residency program, chairman of Pediatrics, and in 1983, president and CEO. After he retired in 1996, he continued to serve on the board of trustees.

During the 1970s, Schubert led an effort to centralize the region's pediatric care at a single medical center big enough to offer a critical mass of expertise, research and teaching resources. In 1976, he also championed an effort to expand the Hamilton County Indigent Care Tax Levy, which guaranteed access to quality care for children, regardless of the family’s ability to pay.

Under his leadership, the medical center built a new research building (1991) and a new patient care tower - Location B (1993). The medical center became a Level 1 pediatric trauma center and opened its first neighborhood location in Mason (1987). He also founded an annual scholarship to encourage members of underrepresented groups to pursue nursing careers.

“Dr. Schubert was one of the greatest leaders in our hospital’s history,” says Michael Fisher, who began his tenure as president and CEO of Cincinnati Children’s in January 2010. “For me personally, it was an honor to know and work with him during my years on the board and in my two years as CEO. For many of us, Dr. Schubert was a beloved mentor and role model. We will remember him for his dedication to Cincinnati Children’s, his passion for improving child health, his quiet manner, his brilliant mind and his warmth and kindness.”

In addition to expanding clinical services, Schubert’s emphasis on research attracted scientific experts who produced significant advances in endocrinology, infectious diseases, critical care, cardiology and genetics.

“When I came to Cincinnati Children’s in the early 1980s, the hospital, in many ways, had already peaked in the ’30s and ’40s and was going through some difficult times. But the early ’80s were greatly significant,” says John Hutton, MD., vice president and director, Biomedical Informatics. “As president and CEO, Bill felt strongly about the importance of research. He recruited with the intent of building our research focus. During his tenure, Cincinnati Children’s really made the transition that led to becoming the great institution it is today.”

Often called “the pediatrician’s pediatrician” or “the grand statesman of pediatrics,” Schubert received numerous honors. These include the William Cooper Procter Medal (1990), the Daniel Drake Award (1991), the Murray Davidson Award of the National AAP Section on Gastroenterology and Nutrition (2003), and the Lifetime Hero Award from the Cincinnati Business Courier (2003).

In 2004, the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce named him a Great Living Cincinnatian. Most recently, Junior Achievement of Greater Cincinnati inducted him into its Business Hall of Fame (2011).

Schubert is survived by Mary, his wife of 63 years; daughters Carol, Joanne, Barbara and Nancy, and five grandchildren.

Cincinnati Children's honored Dr. Schubert's life and work at a memorial service on April 13, 2012. You can watch a video of the service here.

Gifts in memory of Dr. Schubert can be mailed to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, P.O. Box 5202, Cincinnati, OH 45201-5202. Gifts may be made online at

About Cincinnati Children's

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center ranks third in the nation among all Honor Roll hospitals in U.S. News and World Report's 2011 Best Children's Hospitals ranking. It is ranked #1 for gastroenterology and in the top 10 for all pediatric specialties - a distinction shared by only two other pediatric hospitals in the United States. Cincinnati Children's is one of the top two recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health. It is internationally recognized for improving child health and transforming delivery of care through fully integrated, globally recognized research, education and innovation. Additional information can be found at 

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