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Visionary, businessman, cattleman, friend to many Physician, visionary, businessman, cattleman, friend to many, grandfather, father and husband, Ruskin Curry Norman, M.D., has passed away at age 89.
At Rus’s side when he accepted the outreach of God’s arms were his loving wife of 30 years, Karen Roitsch Norman, and his four loving children and their families, with whom he shared a happy, active, community-oriented life.
A dynamic personality, a quiet man though forceful in thought and deed, a person with wide interests, Rus was beloved by many. Among Rus’s many attributes were his strong work ethic, his faith in the progress of science, his belief in a better future, and his steady leadership and vision. He inspired his friends, co-workers, and family to reach beyond what they thought they could achieve. Rus’s belief in the importance of scientific advancement is illustrated in his working with others to help create the Cancer Therapy and Research Center in San Antonio (CTRC) in 1969.
As a physician, he understood the potential for community-based cancer research. Additionally, Rus and Karen helped medical researcher, Dr. William McGuire, collect breast cancer specimens from which information was gained that changed the treatment of women with breast cancer throughout the world. As a senior partner, he was proud to be associated with what he felt was the best medical radiology group anywhere — Norman, Brannan, Riley, Stuart, Freeman, Miller, Goldstein, Williams, McMurray, Golden and Associates, now known as the South Texas Radiology Group.
He was not all work, however. A lot of fun, with a good sense of humor and an easy laugh, Rus loved to play cards and on occasion, place a bet or two. He was an early supporter of horse racing in San Antonio. To the benefit of his associates, colleagues, friends and family, Rus combined a dedication to work, a strong commitment to the improvement of his community, quiet and unheralded individual acts of kindness, an engaging personality, a streak of irreverence, an unabated criticism of the evils of tobacco, and unparalleled support for those whom he loved.
Born in the Ozarks, in Ava, Missouri, to Clyde E. Norman, a pharmacist and owner of the town’s Rexall Drug Store, and Effie Curry Norman, Rus had an exceptional education for the times. He attended high school and early college at the Kemper Military School, graduating in 1938. He then earned his B.S. degree in pharmacy from St. Louis College of Pharmacy, graduating first in his class. He then attended the University of Missouri Medical School for two years, where he placed second in his class. Rus completed medical school and received his M.D. from Northwestern University. After serving in the U.S. Army Medical Corps in Germany at the end of World War II, he returned to Chicago’s St. Luke’s Hospital for his radiology residency.
Lured by the warm weather and the beauty of the San Antonio River behind the Nix Hospital Building, Rus moved his family to San Antonio, Texas, in 1951. Through years of work, he enjoyed being a part of a dynamic radiology practice that attracted excellent radiologists to San Antonio. This group of physicians served the Nix Memorial Hospital, the Methodist Hospital, and St. Luke’s Hospital, and other outpatient facilities. Rus’s career spanned a period of time during which much new imaging technology was created. He enthusiastically embraced new developments such as CT scanning, mammography, and magnetic resonance imaging.
Over the course of his medical career, Rus was a participating member and contributor to many professional organizations, including the following: American Medical Association; Texas Medical Association; Bexar County Medical Society; American Roentgen Ray Society; Society of Nuclear Medicine, Southwestern Chapter — Past President; Texas Radiological Society — Past President; American College of Radiology — Past Member, Executive Committee; American Health Care Association — Medical Advisory Committee, Region VII Medical Advisory — Chairman, National Medical Advisory Committee — Chairman; Texas Nursing Home Association — Liaison Representative to Nursing Homes and Aging Committee; Alamo Chapter Nursing Home Association; and Texas and State Professional Standards Review Organization. Rus’s record of community service is broad and significant. He served his community in the following roles and for the following community service organizations: Alamo Area Council of Governments Health Coordinating Committee; Camino Real Health Systems Agency Board of Directors; St. Luke’s Lutheran Hospital — Board of Trustees, Chairman of the Board and Member; Baptist Health System — Advisory Board of Trustees; Cancer Therapy and Research Center –Board of Governors and Lifetime Member; Southwest Texas Foundation for Cancer and Therapy Research Center — Board of Trustees and Lifetime Member; Southwest Texas Methodist Hospital — Core Cancer Advisory Committee; Humana Women’s Hospital Medical Advisory Board; University of Texas, San Antonio — Member of the Development Board; St. Luke’s Health Ministries — Member of the Board of Directors; San Antonio Children’s Foundation — Executive Committee; Charity Ball Association; and South Texas Blood & Tissue Center Foundation – Co-Founder-Emeritus.
Following his father’s example, Rus loved raising registered Maine-Anjou and Angus cattle at Nor-Tex Farms. It was a highlight of his life when Rus’s bull won Maine-Anjou Bull Champion at the Denver National Western Show.
With dedicated employees and hard-working co-owners, Rus built two nursing homes in San Antonio, which operated under the name, “Normandy Terrace.” His goal was to treat the residents and their families with respect and provide them with a place for retirement of which they could be proud. Rus, a physician who understood business, was proud to be on the board of directors at Ilex Oncology, Inc. and at The Bank of San Antonio, which merged into Compass Bank, where he worked with their many outstanding executives and board members.
Rus and Karen’s extensive community contributions were recognized locally and nationally. Rus and Karen received the Humanitarian Award of the Bexar County Medical Society. Together, they also received the National Humanitarian Award from the National Jewish Medical & Research Center of Denver, Colorado.
In 2001 Rus and Karen received the Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals. And in 2002 they received the Humanitarian Award from the National Conference of Community and Justice. Rus’s fundamental beliefs are reflected in the following passage: “Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” (1 John 3:18) A wonderful husband and father, Rus will be dearly missed, although he and his inspiration will remain forever in the hearts of his family.
Rus is survived by his beloved family, his wife and soul mate, Karen, his four children and their spouses, Nancy Norman and Rob Robertson, Susan and Lon Smith, Jimmy and Alice Norman, and Kevin Kaase. Rus is also survived by his nine beloved grandchildren, Jenny and Will Holshouser, Robbie Robertson, Whitney Smith, Andrew Smith, Alex Smith, Shelby Smith, David and Rosie Norman, John Norman and his fiancee Valerie Russell, Eleanor Norman, one great-grandchild, James Ruskin Norman, and another great-grandchild expected in December. Rus is also survived by his sister, Laverne Norman Russell.
Rus’s first wife, Jean Young Norman, the mother of Nancy, Susan and Jimmy, passed away in 1969. Our family wishes to thank the many friends and colleagues who have loved and supported Rus throughout the years. We also wish to thank Rus’s attending physicians, Dr. Robert Schnitzler, Dr. Robert Goff, and Dr. Mark Weinstein and his caregivers, Elva Longoria, Lupita Cerda, Helen Martinez, and Delia Padilla for their kind, thoughtful, and atte
ntive care to Rus.
The visitation was on Sunday, Sept. 21, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Porter Loring Mortuary, San Antonio, Texas.
Service was Monday, Sept. 22, at 4:30 p.m., at Christ Lutheran Church.
Valet parking was provided at the church. The pallbearers were Kevin Kaase, Jimmy Norman, John Norman, Rob Robertson, Robbie Robertson, Wayne Roitsch, Alex Smith, Andrew Smith, and Dr. Lon Smith. The honorary pallbearers were Dr. Harold Brannan, Hal Dean, Dr. John Freeman, Dr. Harvey Goldstein, Jack Gorman, Jim Gorman, Peter Hennessey Sr., John Korbell, Dr. Joe Miller, Bishop Arthur Rode, The Rev. Steve Rode, Dr. Robert Schnitzler, Dr. Jim Stewart, Harry Lee Vogt, and Dr. Mark Weinstein.
A private interment service for the family followed at Sunset Memorial Park.
The family requests that memorials in honor of Rus be sent to the patients of the Ruskin C. Norman Radiation Therapy Unit at CTRC, the ThriveWell Cancer Foundation (P.O. Box 29331, San Antonio, Texas 78229), the Dr. Ruskin C. and Karen Norman Family Foundation Scholarships at Texas Lutheran University and at the University of Texas at San Antonio, or to the charity of your choice.
You are invited to sign the guestbook at www. porterloring.com. Arrangements were by Porter Loring, San Antonio, Texas.