Obituary of Seymour H. Levitt
Seymour H. Levitt, Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota, died on September 30, 2017, 89 years old. Doctor Levitt was born in Chicago, spent his youth in Denver, Colorado and received his medical degree at the University of Colorado in 1954. Doctor Levitt specialized in radiation therapy and had appointments at several American radiation therapy institutions in leading positions before he became professor and clinical chief at the Department of Therapeutic Radiology, University of Minnesota Hospital in 1970. He retired in 1999 but continued his clinical and scientific work until the age of 87. With his Swedish wife, Solveig Levitt, he regularly visited Sweden and a close personal relationship was developed with the former head of Radiumhemmet, Professor Jerzy Einhorn, and his family. When retired, Doctor Levitt spent more time in Stockholm. He bought an apartment and he and his wife lived several months every year in Stockholm. With daily visits to the Radiumhemmet, where he had an office, he was an important contributor to several research projects. He was appointed Foreign Adjunct Professor at the Karolinska Institutet in 2002 and held this position until 2014.
Doctor Levitt was a leading international figure in radiation therapy. Some main areas for his contribution were Hodgkin´s disease, breast and prostate cancer. He was editor of the textbook Technological Basis of Radiation Therapy, a fundamental educational book which was released in four editions and used internationally during decades. Doctor Levitt was a member of the American Board of Radiology, President of the American Society of Therapeutic Radiation Oncology, President of the American Radium Society, Director of the American Cancer Society and President of the Radiologic Society of North America. He was an important participant in the International Working Group on Radiotherapy in Stockholm. Doctor Levitt received several awards, among them the American Radium Society Gold Medal, the ASTRO Gold Medal, the American College of Radiology Gold Medal and the Gold Medal of the Radiological Society of North America.
After retirement Doctor Levitt expanded his time in Stockholm and he and his wife developed several close friendships. Apart from doing research his unusual experience in radiation therapy was of great value for the ongoing development of new radiation technologies for high precision radiotherapy treatment in real time (four-dimensional radiotherapy) of prostate cancer. Dose planning and radiobiology were other areas where Doctor Levitt contributed with important advice and his knowledge in imaging linked to radiation therapy was of great importance. He attracted well recognised international radiation therapists, imaging specialists and radiobiologists to visit Stockholm, another vitalising activity offered by Doctor Levitt. His support during more than 20 years of clinical and research activities in Stockholm has been highly appreciated.
Doctor Levitt had another important component of his personality, his kindness. He was always willing to help and never expected anything in return. At the private level we had a rich interaction during many years. Due to age and increasing difficulties to travel Seymour sold the apartment in Stockholm 2014 and thereafter the contact continued by regular discussions over the phone.
We are all grateful for the opportunity to have been involved in Seymour’s and Solveig’s group of close friends. The professional support during many years has been of extreme value and the close friendship is unforgettable.
Anders R Holmberg