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Dr. E. Richard Graviss: Cardinal Glennon pediatric radiologist, SLU professor

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 7, 2010 - Dr. Edward Richard "Dick" Graviss, a Cardinal Glennon pediatric radiologist and St. Louis University professor, died at his home in Creve Coeur on Easter Sunday following a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 67.

"He was a very accomplished radiologist," said Michael Wolverson, M.D., professor and chair of radiology at St. Louis University. "Radiology was the love of his life and he had high expectations of his residents. He was a perfectionist in many ways."

Deanna Rensing, supervisor of diagnostic imaging at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center, agreed.

"He was great to the residents and a good teacher," Rensing said. "He definitely knew his stuff.

"He helped a lot of technologists become better through his teaching," Rensing added. "He taught us immensely about so many diseases. He was definitely someone you would want to have reading your child's X-rays."

That's because, Wolverson said, Dr. Graviss had a good understanding of the complexity of X-ray equipment, along with a commitment to performing non-invasive procedures on children, treating them through catheterizations or needles whenever possible, rather than surgery.

A memorial Mass in celebration of Dr. Graviss' life will be at 10 a.m., Friday, April 9 at St. Francis Xavier College Church.


A Career of Dedication


Dr. Graviss was born Dec. 20, 1942, in Philadelphia. He received his bachelor's degree in 1964 and his medical degree in 1968, both from the University of Louisville in Kentucky. He returned to his hometown to intern at Philadelphia General Hospital in 1968. Despite being married with three children, his next stop was the U.S. Army, where he served as a medical officer from 1969-71, including a stint in Vietnam.

He was a captain at the time of his discharge. Afterward he and his family came to St. Louis to begin his training at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at the Washington University School of Medicine. He was a resident from 1971 to 1974 and a fellow in pediatric radiology from 1974 to 1975.

After completing his training, Dr. Graviss joined Saint Louis University, where he wore many hats during his more than three decades of tenure. He began as an assistant professor of radiology in 1976, obtaining a secondary appointment in pediatrics the following year. In 1981, he became an associate professor in the department of radiology and an associate professor of pediatrics; seven years later, he attained his full professorship and in 1992, he was named professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine.

Over a 15-year period, Dr. Graviss twice served as director of the department of diagnostic imaging at Cardinal Glennon and he was the hospital's director of the pediatric radiology fellowship from 1990 to 1998.

His only time away from Saint Louis University was a two-year period as professor of radiology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He returned to Saint Louis University and Cardinal Glennon in 2002, where he would continue to work until a few weeks before his death.

"Even when he became quite ill, when he knew he wouldn't live much longer, he chose to continue his work," Wolverson said.


Totally Invested


"Whatever he did, he was totally invested in it," said his wife of 47 years, Joan Graviss.

One such investment was his long service as a board examiner for the American Board of Radiology.

"Being a board examiner was most important to him because he got to listen to prospective radiologists," Joan Graviss said. "And he chose residents for Saint Louis University. He wanted good people."

He also wrote or co-wrote more than 50 publications and did nearly 100 scientific presentations. Dr. Graviss was active in several professional organizations, including the Radiological Society of North America, the International Congress of Radiology, the St. Louis Metropolitan Medical Society, the Missouri State Radiological Society, the American College of Radiology, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Roentgen Ray Society and the Society for Pediatric Radiology. In 2008, he received Saint Louis University's Distinguished Service Award.

Dr. Graviss was a recent convert to scuba diving, often traveling with his wife to their vacation home on the beach in Roatan, Honduras. He was also, his wife said, an accomplished skier, adventurous traveler, lover of fine wines, enthusiastic gardener and a devoted tennis player.

He was active in the United States Tennis Association and the West County Tennis Ladder where, in the mid-'90s, he established the record for most matches played during a single year. A person often on the court with him was his friend of 35 years, Mike Valentine.

"He wasn't quite as good as I am, but he was pretty good," Valentine laughed. "He loved the sport, and he was a good sportsman.

"Dick cared very dearly about his work and the people he worked with," Valentine said. "He cared for his medical practice, his tennis and his family."

Dr. Graviss reluctantly gave up his beloved work on March 4, the day after he held his fifth granddaughter, who was born March 3.

"Dick cried all day at seeing his latest grandchild," his wife said. "He didn't think he'd live to see her."

In Memoriam

Dr. Graviss was preceded in death by his parents, Eugene and Olga Graviss.

In addition to his wife Joan (nee Leeds) Graviss, Dr. Graviss is survived by three children: Dr. Christopher (Beth) Graviss, Jeannette (Chris Dornfeld) Graviss, both of University City, and Melissa (Jim Farber) Graviss of San Francisco; five granddaughters: Margaret Lindsay Graviss, Madeline Graviss Dornfeld, Alexandra Graviss Dornfeld, Ella Rose Marie Graviss, and Lauren Elizabeth Graviss, all of University City, and one sister, Julia Hatton of Orlando, Fla.

Dr. Graviss donated his body to the Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

The family will welcome friends from 4-8 p.m., Thursday, April 8 at their home. A memorial Mass for Dr. Graviss will be celebrated at 10 a.m., Friday, April 9 at St. Francis Xavier College at Saint Louis University, 3628 Lindell Boulevard, in St. Louis.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate contributions in Dr. Graviss's honor to the Crossroads Scholarship Fund, 500 DeBaliviere Avenue, St. Louis, Mo. 63112, or the Society for Pediatric Radiology Educational Fund, 891 Preston White Drive, Reston, Va. 20191.

Gloria Ross is the head of Okara Communications and the storywriter for AfterWords, an obituary-writing and production service. 

Gloria S. Ross is the head of Okara Communications and AfterWords, an obituary-writing and design service.