Monday, Oct 15, 2018
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Dr. Robert J. Gosling (1922-2015): Rehabilitation specialist holistic medicine leader


Dr. Robert J. Gosling, who became a physiatrist, specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation, when the field was new, died Saturday of heart and lung failure in BrookHaven Retirement Community, Brookville, Ohio. He was 93.

He moved to an independent living apartment from his Ottawa Hills condominium about two years ago to be close to Sharon and Ward Newman, his daughter and son-in law,

Dr. Gosling retired in 1994 from his private practice in Toledo and two years later from St. Francis Rehabilitation Hospital and Nursing Home in Green Springs, Ohio, where he became director of physical medicine and rehabilitation in 1961 and medical director in 1985.

He also served on the board of trustees.

Dr. Gosling was a former director of rehabilitation and physical medicine at Toledo Hospital and of the amputee clinic at Mercy Hospital in Toledo.

In 1978, speaking to a volunteer service group, Dr. Gosling noted that half the amputee clinic’s patients were elderly and the others included those injured in motorcycle and car crashes and industrial and farm machinery accidents.

“The diagnosis is obvious — they had an amputation,” Dr. Gosling said then. “But what are their needs? Rehabilitation really is what happens to our heads, not our limbs.”

Some patients became friends, and he had some over for dinner, even Thanksgiving, his daughter Sharon said.

“It’s very difficult to be in a situation where you find yourself with a spinal cord injury,” she said. “You need someone to be kind yet persistent, to push you along. He was good at that. He spent many hours just talking to his patients. He had to be their cheerleader.”

He was in the vanguard of holistic health care and even learned acupuncture, daughter Maureen said.

“He didn’t like to call his patients ‘patients’ or ‘cases.’ He thought of them as people,” daughter Maureen said.

Dr. Gosling was a former trustee of the Ability Center of Greater Toledo and was a former president of the Arthritis Foundation’s northwest Ohio chapter.

He was born July 2, 1922, in Grand Rapids, Mich., to Clara and Arthur Gosling. The family moved for his father’s sales jobs, to Detroit, Florida, and Toledo.

Dr. Gosling was a 1940 graduate of South High School in Grand Rapids and afterward enrolled in junior college.

He received a medical degree in 1946 from the University of Michigan and was a general practitioner in Grand Rapids for a time. Dr. Gosling was in the Army Medical Corps and was stationed in Japan during the Korean War. Physiatry, which became a recognized specialty in the late 1940s, caught his interest.

After stints at the Army hospital in Denver, Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, and at Harlan Memorial Hospital in Kentucky, he came to Toledo in 1961. Dr. Gosling left the Army Reserve in 1965 as a lieutenant colonel.

He and his wife, Bernice, were supporters of the Toledo Symphony and the Village Players. He played piano and organ — largely by ear — and was active in Detroit and Toledo theater-organ societies. In 2003, daughter Maureen’s documentary film on the Zapotec women of southern Mexico was screened at the Ohio Theatre on Lagrange Street.

Beforehand, Dr. Gosling played the theater’s pipe organ in concert.

“It was a very special thing,” daughter Maureen said. “He had a gusto for life, and I appreciated that.”

He liked color and dressed and decorated with flair. Each door was a different color at the family’s longtime home on Glann Road, where he designed the wallpaper. At his condo, the kitchen was a deep red.

He also built a boat and traveled the country on a motorcycle.

Dr. Gosling was a longtime member of Hope Lutheran Church.

He and Bernice Dahl married Sept. 19, 1948. They’d met a year earlier at St. Luke’s Hospital in Spokane, where he was a medical intern and she a dietitian intern. She died Nov. 27, 1987.

Surviving are his daughters, Maureen Gosling, Karen Gosling, and Sharon Gosling Newman; son, Douglas Gosling; sisters, Betty Lou Vandermolen and Shirley Moore; two grandchildren, and a great-grandson.

Services will be at 1 p.m. Saturday in Hope Lutheran Church, with visitation after 10 a.m. Arrangements are being handled by the Walker Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the BrookHaven Benevolent Foundation; the Detroit Theater Organ Society, or Sight Center of Northwest Ohio.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.

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