April 17, 1928 - April 21, 1986
In themid-l8th century, a brilliant, crippled British intellectual, Alexander Pope, wrote "Tis education forms the common mind: Just as the twig is bent, the tree's inclined." In the mid-20th century, Nancy Arnold Roeske's life slory substantiated Pope's observation. Nancy published a prescient autobiographical sketch in the Winter 1985 issue of Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. It was a remarkably frank recognition of the formative influences of her life which she acknowledged shaped her successful professional career. Her account went back three generations Io her grandparent's recognition of the importance of education, compassion for others, and a life dedicated to causes.
Her parents, the doctors Arnold, were both surgeons; it followed naturally that Nancy would be inclined to the caring profession ol'medidnc. From her pre-teen years on. she was immersed in medicine. Spurred by her personal hyperoptic astigmatism, her chosen field was child and adolescent psychiatry, particularly as it contributed to the rehabilitation of those patients crippled by poliomyelitis and those children who were congenially blind.
Her college years at Vassar and her medical education at Cornell prepared her for psychiatric residency at the University of Indiana. Dr. Nancy Roeskelived by her own dicium: a woman can bea mother, a wife, and a physician. She married Dr. Roger Roeske, a professor of chemistry at Indiana University. They became the parents of two daughters. Christine and Sarah both carried on the female family tradition, each earning a doctoral degree. Her career burgeoned as she assumed progressively more administrative and research responsibilities as the Director of the Riley Clinic, University of Indiana, Indianapolis, from 1964 to 1973.
She was elevated to a professorial chair in psychiatry at the Indiana University School of Medicine in 1974. That opportunity enabled Nancy to combine education of medical students and adjunct i ve rehabilitative personnel in her effort to establish a comprehensive long-term therapeutic regimen. This accomplishment fulfilled her long-held goal: the establishment of a caring program on behalf of the chronically handicapped. In addition, she carried on another family tradition by creating a network of support by the families, the schools, and the community. Nancy realized that steadfast encouragement is the vital supplement to rehabilitation. She personalized this by becoming an active member of local, state, and national organizations. She consuited with the Indiana State School for the Blind. the Marydale School for Girls, Jewish Family Services, Vigo County Adult and Child Guidance Clinic, among others. She wrote proliiically and spoke ardently in support of her many activities and belief's.
Nancy's continuing activities in medical education immersed her in the committees and administrative structures of not only the Department of Psychiatry, but also the Indiana University Medical School at large. Significantly, her activity in the American Psychiatric Association catalyzed that organization's official recognition of non-discriminatory minority rights. Her commitment to women's issues was unwavering, and in recognition of her zeal, she held the first chair of the APA Task Force on Women. National rccogniiionof ihis important work led to her election as National Trustee-at- Large from 1970 to 1979.
Dr. Naney Roeske's life was an unyielding commitment to nondiscriminatory activity. She was indefatigable, even through the last several years of her life, when she coped valiantly with cancer surgery and chemotherapy. She never failed in fulfilling her duties as an Editor of Psychiatric Annals and was responsible for its successful monthly Continuing Medical Education supplement from 1978 until her death. She shielded even those of us who were close to her from knowledge of the toll that this terminal ordeal exacted, for. despite the cosi. she did not allow it to daunt her incredible activity. She died quite suddenly, as she had lived: active io the last moment.
Our final tribute to a beloved and beautiful colleague and a dear friend is best memorialized in [his Sanskrit verse that she quoted:
Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course lie all the
Varieties and realities of your existence:
The bliss of growth.
The glory of action.
The splendor of beauty;
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision;
But today well lived makes
Every yesterday a dream of happiness,
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day!
Such is the salutation of the dawn!