It is with much sadness that I communicate the passing of our esteemed colleague Frank Ervin last Friday in St Kitts. Frank was a pioneer clinician scientist, a visionary researcher, and an engaged social activist. Frank influenced the life and career of many of us. He was an excellent mentor and a source of inspiration.
Frank Raymond Ervin, MD, born November 3, 1926 in Little Rock, Arkansas, died peacefully at home in St Kitts (Eastern Caribbean) on April 24, 2015. Dr. Ervin was educated at the University of Texas (BSc Chemistry, 1944) and Tulane University, New Orleans (MD, 1951). He served in the US Navy as an aviation electronics technician from 1944-46. From 1952-55. Frank completed residency training in psychiatry and neurology and was Board certified in both specialties in 1958. Dr. Ervin held academic positions at Tulane University (1955-57), Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital (1958-72), UCLA (1972-78) and McGill University, Montreal (1979-). He retired from McGill as Professor Emeritus in 2009. In 1972, Frank Ervin founded the Behavioural Science Foundation laboratories in St Kitts for the study of brain and behaviour in the cercopithecine monkeys indigenous to the island. More recently, he co-founded the Ripple Institute, St Kitts, with Dr. Izben Williams.
Frank Ervin’s accomplishments and passions can be summarized in three domains: clinical medicine, biomedical research and social activism. A dedicated clinician, Frank Ervin was an outstanding diagnostician, a sensitive and effective psychiatrist and a world leader in appreciating the importance of brain disease to disordered behavior of all kinds. He was a fellow of the Adlai Stevenson Institute (1970-73), a Fulbright Fellow (1971-72) and a Guggenheim Fellow (1972-73), and was elected to Best Doctors in 1998. He served on multiple presidential advisory committees on problems of violence, crime and delinquency. His expert testimony has influenced jurisprudence and legal precedent in multiple domains.
From early days, Frank Ervin’s clinical practice defined his research focus. A prolific and innovative investigator, he authored nearly 300 papers and an archival book, and opened lines of inquiry into the neurological basis of behavioural control problems which are only now beginning to be appreciated. Although grounded in his initial disciplines of neurophysiology and neuroanatomy, his recent studies also included biochemistry, nutrition, genetics, pharmacology, neuroimaging and genomics.
Frank Ervin is mourned by his partner, Roberta Palmour, his four surviving children (Stuart, Stephen, Sean and Erinn Ervin), and Nicole Palmour; twelve grandchildren (Olivia, Graham, Brielle, Rosalie, Arianna, Lex, Jack, Katy, Max and Gabrielle Ervin, and Chiara and Hayden D’Isep) and two great-grandchildren (Caleb and Amy Ervin). He was predeceased by his wife (Patricia McTee Ervin) and one son (Scott Ervin). Frank Ervin was a positive influence in the lives of hundreds of people with his clinical care, his teaching and instruction and his moral and educational support. This world has lost one more good man and he will be sorely missed.
On behalf of the Department, I offer my most heartfelt condolences to Roberta and the rest of their family.
Chair, Department of Psychiatry