Cincinnati Children’s was saddened by the death this past February of one of its greatest leaders, William K. Schubert, MD.

Schubert served as president and chief executive officer of Cincinnati Children’s from 1983 to 1996. He grew Cincinnati Children’s from a respected local pediatric hospital into an internationally recognized leader in patient care, research and education. Friends and colleagues remember him as a gentle physician, a wise mentor and a compassionate pioneer.

“Dr. Schubert was one of the greatest leaders in our hospital’s history,” says Michael Fisher, who became president and CEO of Cincinnati Children’s in January 2010. “We will remember him for his passion for improving child health, his quiet manner, his brilliant mind and his warmth and kindness.”

Schubert was born in Cincinnati on July 12, 1926. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he returned home to earn his medical degree from the UC College of Medicine in 1952.

Schubert began his residency in pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s in 1953. After a few years in private practice, he joined Cincinnati Children’s full time in 1963 as an associate professor of pediatrics and director of the Clinical Research Center.

“Dr. Schubert was the leader who incorporated the research mission into all planning and program development during his tenure,” says Arnold Strauss, MD, director of the Cincinnati Children’s Research Foundation. “He put Cincinnati Children’s on the national map.”

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

His emphasis on research attracted experts who produced significant advances in endocrinology, infectious diseases, critical care, cardiology and genetics.

“The number of people who came to Cincinnati and stayed in Cincinnati because of Dr. Schubert is huge. He was the teacher of my teachers,” says Mitch Cohen, MD, director, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition. “Dr. Schubert made Cincinnati one of the top places for pediatric care in the nation.”

Schubert’s many honors include the William Cooper Procter Medal (1990), the Daniel Drake Award (1991), and the Murray Davidson Award of the National American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Gastroenterology and Nutrition (2003). In 2004, the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce named him a Great Living Cincinnatian.

“Dr. Schubert pieced together our culture and value system, brick by brick, step by step, over many years. His legacy will withstand the test of time,” says Scott Hamlin, chief operating officer at Cincinnati Children’s.

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