Cover photo for Robert W.  Edland's Obituary
Robert W.  Edland Profile Photo

Robert W. Edland

d. August 30, 2015

Dr. Robert William Edland, 83, long-time resident of the La Crosse area, died peacefully on Sunday August 30, 2015 at the Morrow Community Home in Sparta, Wisconsin. Born on February 14, 1932 in Madison, Wisconsin to Alfred O. and Ella W. (Freund) Edland, he spent the first twenty four years of his life in the Madison area.

He was a high-honor graduate of Madison East High School in 1949, where he was a two-year member of the National Honor Society, active in forensics, band and orchestra as well as several theatrical productions. He was also the recipient of the McPyncheon Academic Scholarship and Shaw Essay Awards during his junior and senior years. During his undergraduate years at the University of Wisconsin at Madison he received several academic honors including freshman, sophomore and senior honors and Phi Eta Sigma (National Honorary Scholastic Fraternity). He attended the University of Wisconsin Medical School. He was united in marriage to Carole F. McGinley in Antigo, Wisconsin on September 17, 1955. Dr. Edland graduated from the University of Wisconsin Medical School with honors in 1956.

Following graduation he was commissioned in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and completed a general rotating internship at Fitzsimons General Hospital in Denver, Colorado in 1957. Following a subsequent six month course in army field medicine, he completed a three-year residency in general radiology at Brooke General Hospital in San Antonio, Texas in 1960, serving the last year as chief resident.

Following a three-year tour of duty in Augsburg, Germany as Chief of Radiology at the 11th Field Hospital and 21st Evacuation Hospital, he came to Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, D.C. and the University of Maryland Hospitals in Baltimore, Maryland, and completed a Fellowship in Radiobiology and Radiation Oncology in 1964. After completing all of his sub-specialty training he ended his medical corps service as Chief of Radiation Oncology at Tripler General Hospital on Oahu, Hawaii in 1967, after eleven years of service, having achieved the rank of Lt. Col. U.S. Army Medical Corps.

Following his years in the military he accepted an appointment as Assistant Professor of Radiology at the University of Wisconsin Medical School in Madison, WI. In 1969 he was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure and appointed Chairman of the Division of Radiation Oncology within the Department of Radiology and Director of the Radiotherapy Center at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics.

In 1970 he left the University of Wisconsin Medical School to found the new Department of Radiation Oncology and the Western Wisconsin Radiotherapy Center at the Gundersen Clinic in La Crosse, where he was to serve as chairman until 1995. He retired from the clinic at the close of 1997. Because of his life-long interest in medical education, he maintained his affiliation with the University of Wisconsin Medical School as an Associate Clinical Professor of Radiology and in 1974 established an elective rotating affiliated residency program at the Gundersen Clinic for residents in training at the parent program in Madison. In 1977 he was promoted to the rank of full Clinical Professor in the Human Oncology Department. In 1982, in addition, he was appointed a full Clinical Professor of Radiation Oncology at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, establishing a similar rotation plan for residents in their senior year of training at that institution as well.

Following his specialty board certification in Radiology and Nuclear Medicine in 1961, Dr. Edland conducted significant clinical research during his career, publishing over thirty papers in refereed medical journals and medical text books. Because of his interest in post-graduate medical education he was appointed to a four-year term as a certifying examiner in Radiation Oncology by the American Board of Radiology. Dr. Edland served as President of the Wisconsin Society of Therapeutic Radiology, Chairman of the Section on Radiation Oncology of the Wisconsin State Medical Society and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Radiologic Society.

He was elected Secretary of the American Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) in 1974 and later as its Councilor to the American College of Radiology (ACR) for seven years. This was followed by a three-year stint as a member of the Steering Committee of the College. In 1987 he was elected President of ASTRO, followed by a term as Chairman of the Board of Directors. In 1991 he was elected to the position of Chancellor of the ACR from ASTRO where he also served for six years as Chairman of The Commission on Radiation Oncology of the College.

In 1977 he was elected to Fellowship in the ACR and the Royal Society of Health (England), and, in 1988, as a Distinguished Fellow of the American College of Nuclear Medicine. In 2006 he was elected an Inaugural Charter Class Fellow of ASTRO.

The compassionate care of patients was very dear to him and for almost three decades the waiting room of the Radiation Oncology Center at the Gundersen Clinic displayed a prominent sign which read “To cure often, to relieve usually, to comfort and support always,” In addition, for three decades, he served as an advisor and cancer consultant to the St. Francis Hospital and its affiliated clinics and tumor board with operating room privileges for radium and cesium brachytherapy of gynecological malignancies. During his career he treated over ten thousand patients with cancer.

Dr. Edland was an active member of the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman Parish where he served on the Parish Pastoral Council and as a reader, extraordinary minister of communion, leader of prayer services and as a member of the Parish Sacred Worship and Finance Committees. In 1991 he was created a Papal Knight of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem by Cardinal Bernadin in Chicago and achieved the rank of Knight Grand Cross of the Holy Sepulchre in 2003.

He was a devoted and loving husband, father and grandfather and his beloved extended family, together with his religious faith and his patients were his greatest treasures.

Dr. Edland was preceded in death by his parents and a dear granddaughter, Devyn Doughty and his loving wife Carole. He is survived by four children; Christopher (Caroline) of Cloquet, MN , Anne Doughty of Eau Claire, WI, Christina (Philippe) Coste of Paris, FR and David (Nadene) of Chippewa Falls, WI and seven beloved grandchildren; Dylan Edland, Dane and Drew Doughty; Hannah, Hugo, and Eva Coste and Megan Edland. He is also survived by his brother Jon (Alice) of South Carolina and his sister Lori (Jack) Poulson of Madison, WI. Many nieces and nephews also survive him.

The funeral mass will be held at 10:00 AM, Friday Sept. 4, 2015 at the Cathedral St. Joseph the Workman Catholic Church, 530 Main St., La Crosse, WI, with a visitation starting at 9am. The very Rev. Msgr. Charles Stoetzel will officiate with entombment to be held at the Catholic Cemetery in La Crosse.

Memorials in his memory may be made to the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman Development Fund or the Gundersen Lutheran Medical Foundation for Cancer Research.

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