Dr. Armand Brodeur, famous St. Louis pediatrician, dies at 87

10:56 AM, Dec 8, 2009   |    comments
Dr. Armand Brodeur
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KSDK --  A well-known St. Louis pediatrician has died.  Dr. Armand Brodeur made a name for himself nationwide as a pioneer in radiology and a showman.  He even appeared on the David Letterman Show and was featured in Time magazine.  St. Louis University Medical Center sent us the following obituary:

Armand Brodeur, M.D., a founding father of pediatric radiology at Saint Louis University and SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center, passed away on Monday. Brodeur, who was as comfortable in the spotlight as behind an X-ray machine, was 87.

"He was one of those grand old men of Saint Louis University School of Medicine and Cardinal Glennon, one of those patriarchs who had a dramatic impact on the lives of many during the last 50 years," said Robert Heaney, M.D., senior associate dean of Saint Louis University School of Medicine, who first met Brodeur as a resident at Saint Louis University more than 30 years ago.

Brodeur built a second career as a media doctor who hosted his own medical show, "Doctor to Doctor," on KMOX-AM 1120 for many years and frequently served as an expert source for television and newspaper stories. He founded the National Association of Physician Broadcasters and taught physicians who attended American Medical Association meetings how to work with reporters.

Brodeur appeared on the David Letterman Show and was interviewed by Charles Kuralt, who called him "the gentle wizard."

Brodeur also added a hefty dose of showmanship to the practice of pediatric medicine. His work in making the radiology department at Glennon child-friendly received national coverage in outlets including Reader's Digest and Time magazine.

"You can do as much with a smile as penicillin," Brodeur was quoted as saying in a 1974 Time magazine article. "When I do magic and paint halls and wear corny jackets, it's not because I haven't grown up. To stand tall in pediatrics, you have to do it on your knees."

He wore a lab coat that looked as though it was made from curtain fabric covered with cartoons of Snoopy and Charlie Brown and decorated Glennon's radiology suite so children would think they were entering a space ship or cartoon world.

A magician since high school and member of the Society of American Magicians, Brodeur used razzle-dazzle to charm frightened children who were having X-rays. He was particularly fond of one sleight of hand.

"Very, very many people had seen him perform that rope trick. I never tired of it, which was a good thing because he didn't either," Heaney said.

Doug Ries, who was president of Cardinal Glennon when Brodeur was director of radiology, said Brodeur lit up when he was with children.

"He loved to be around kids. He put himself through college by doing magic. He used that talent and skill in treating his patients and distracting them from medical procedures. He loved to dress up and would wear Star Wars and Snoopy outfits when he treated patients to put kids at ease."

Brodeur came to Saint Louis University as a medical school student in 1945, and was part of the Saint Louis University/Cardinal Glennon family for about 40 years.

Brodeur helped create the pediatric radiology program at Cardinal Glennon and SLU. He was the hospital's first chief of pediatric radiology and helped decide what imaging equipment to order when the hospital opened its doors in 1956.

He served as director of radiology at Cardinal Glennon for 32 years and was chair of the department of radiology at SLU from 1975-78 and department vice chair and director of radiology at Cardinal Glennon until 1988.

A professor emeritus of both radiology and of pediatrics, Brodeur was the author of two radiology textbooks and frequently wrote and lectured on diagnosing child abuse. As a radiologist, Brodeur was all too familiar with the broken bones that come from child abuse. He also developed techniques to reduce X-ray exposure of children to avoid injury to growing tissues.

Brodeur was chair of radiology and on the radiology staff from 1988 to 2004 at Shriner's Hospital in St. Louis.

Brodeur was the "life and soul" of the party, eager to regale guests with magic tricks, said Michael Wolverson, M.D., chair of radiology at Saint Louis University.

"He is responsible for me being here," Wolverson said. "He was very persuasive in recruiting radiologists to Saint Louis University and did much to mentor them throughout their careers. He was one of a kind."

Dennis O'Connor, M.D., professor of pediatrics at Saint Louis University and a Cardinal Glennon pediatrician, called Brodeur a gifted teacher who started his day at 4:30 or 5 a.m. by checking the work of residents.

"He was an excellent radiologist and always wanted to teach," O'Connor said. "He spent a lot of time teaching the residents."

Born on a farm in New Hampshire, Brodeur attended St. Anselm College on a drama scholarship.

Brodeur is survived by his wife Gloria Thompson Brodeur. They have six children: Armand (Joyclyn) Brodeur; Garrett (Debbie Weil) Brodeur, M.D.; Mark (Cheri) Brodeur; Mariette (Peter) Brodeur Goplerud; Michelle (Joe) Adcock; and Paul (Donna) Brodeur; 16 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Bopp Chapel, 10610 Manchester in Kirkwood. The funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Ste. Genevieve du Bois Catholic Church, 1575 N. Woodlawn Ave., in Warson Woods.

In lieu of flowers, contributions to Birth Right www.birthrightstlouis.org and St. Agnes Home www.stagneshome.com are requested.



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