Cover photo for Robert F. Schilling's Obituary
Robert F. Schilling Profile Photo
Robert

Robert F. Schilling

d. September 30, 2014


Schilling, Dr. Robert F. - MADISON - Robert F. Schilling M.D., beloved husband, father, grandfather, mentor and friend, died on Sept. 30, 2014, surrounded by loving family.
He was born, raised, educated, and lived his entire life in Wisconsin, though he traveled the world as a researcher and private citizen. He was born in Adell and spent his adult life in Madison. As an undergraduate student at UW-Madison, he was a star baseball player, and was named Big Ten batting champion in his junior year. He graduated from UW-Madison Medical School in 1943, and within months was serving in the South Pacific as a Navy physician with 3rd Marine Division.
After advanced training at Harvard, Schilling began his life at the UW School of Medicine. He specialized in hematology, and in 1953 developed a test for pernicious anemia, a treatable but often undetected condition. To this day, the "Schilling Test" is utilized occasionally. Dr. Schilling often spoke with humility about being in the "right place at the right time" to describe a career others would say was built on intellect and hard work. He has published widely on vitamin B-12 deficiency and been recognized for his longitudinal studies of families with hereditary spherocytosis.
In 2014, Schilling received the Folkert Belzer Award, a "lifetime achievement" recognition for contributions to the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and to the nation. Working with young medical students and seasoned clinicians was always a source of joy for Dr. Schilling. Even as he gained world-wide recognition, he remained fiercely devoted to his current and former students and patients here at UW-Madison. He continued to pursue his research to the end.
Bob, as he was fondly called by colleagues, friends, and family, was an avid hunter and fisherman. He rode his bike to work well into his 80s, and was swimming this past weekend. He will be well remembered for his trusted advice, his expansive and varied interests, and his succinct expressions including "there is no free lunch."
Robert Schilling was predeceased by his brother, Woodrow Schilling; sister, June Harris; first wife and mother of their five children, Mariam Hansen Schilling; and their daughter, Carla Hansen. Both she and her mother died of pancreatic cancer.
Dr. Schilling is survived by his second wife, Marilyn Johnsrud Schilling, his life partner and best friend for over 40 years. He is also survived by his four children and their spouses, Robert Schilling II (Sheryl Miller), Fredericka Schilling (Bonita Sitter), Richard Schilling (Rose Jamieson), Anne Schilling (Ken Sloan), and Gigi DiBello (widow of Carla Hansen); and his stepchildren and their spouses, Erik Johnsrud (Suzanne) and Kristen Brown (Jeff). He leaves 13 grandchildren, Robin, Alex, Michael, Katrina, Zoe, Rachel, Marla, Dana, Andrea, Ross, Francesca, Dag and Torfinn; and two great-grandchildren, Jubilee and Xeyna. He will be missed by his trusted nephew and close friend, Cal Harris (Marilyn Schriner) and many others, family and friends alike.
A memorial service to honor Dr. Schilling's life will be held on Nov. 1, 2014, at 11 a.m., in the Atrium Auditorium of the First Unitarian Society. The family held a private service on Friday.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests gifts be sent to the Robert F. Schilling Medical Scholarship Fund, or the Robert F. Schilling Memorial Endowment - Focus on Medical Reserach: University of Wisconsin Foundation, 1848 University Ave., Madison WI 53726-4090.
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