AAO Loses Past President Robert E. Kappler, DO, FAAODist, FCA

Posted 3:23 PM by

Photo of Robert KapplerAAO life member Robert E. Kappler, DO, FAAODist, of River Grove, Illinois, died Oct. 18. Dr. Kappler was the 1980-81 president of the Academy, and he was a recipient of the AAO’s Andrew Taylor Still Medallion of Honor and the FAAO’s Distinguished Service Award. 

Dr. Kappler graduated from the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (CCOM) in 1958, and he began his many years of service on the CCOM faculty as an instructor in osteopathic theory and practice, eventually becoming professor and chair of the Department of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) and the director of the Center for Osteopathic Research and Educational Development. He also served as chief of staff for the Chicago Osteopathic Hospital.

During his time at CCOM, Dr. Kappler was instrumental in developing the Educational Council on Osteopathic Principles, a national group of OMM department chairs who meet to discuss ideas pertaining to the teaching of osteopathic principles and practices, and he established the undergraduate OMM fellow program. 

When Kurt P. Heinking, DO, FAAO, an AAO governor, arrived at CCOM as a first-year student in 1989, he was impressed with Dr. Kappler’s breadth of osteopathic knowledge and his gentle demeanor. As an undergraduate fellow, Dr. Heinking worked closely with Dr. Kappler, and in 1998, he joined Dr. Kappler as a faculty member in CCOM’s OMM Department. For many years, the duo drove to the northern Chicago suburbs every Friday to treat members of the Chicago Bears football team. 

Dr. Heinking says he will miss Dr. Kappler’s practical approach to issues and “always learning something new, even though I may have heard it 100 times before!”

In addition to leading the Academy, Dr. Kappler served as president of the Illinois Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons and the Osteopathic Cranial Academy, and he served on the National Board of Examiners in Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery, on the AOA Bureau of Professional Education, and on the editorial boards of The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (JAOA), Osteopathic Physician, and Patient Care Magazine. 

In his life, Dr. Kappler was honored with more than a dozen awards from various associations, including the CCOM Alumni Association’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 1983 and in 1994, the American Osteopathic Foundation’s Gutensohn-Denslow Research Award in 1997, the AOA’s Educator of the Year Award in 2004 and the AOA’s Great Pioneer Award in 2008. The AAO recognized Dr. Kappler with the A.T. Still Medallion of Honor in 2000 and with the FAAO Distinguished Service Award in 2013. He delivered the AAO’s Thomas L. Northup lecture in 1991. 

Upon learning of Dr. Kappler’s death, Dennis J. Dowling, DO, MA, FAAO, a current governor and former president of the Academy, wrote, “I have so many wonderful memories of ‘The Boss.’ He was a teacher and a friend, and I have missed him and will continue to do so. He was incredible!”

Private condolences can be sent to the family via Peterson-Bassi Chapels’ website, and memorial contributions to AAO's Golden Ram Society may made online or mailed to the AAO office at 3500 DePauw Blvd., Suite 1100, Indianapolis, IN 46268-1136.