A life in medicine

In Memoriam: Robert Kappler, DO, leader in medical education

Dr. Kappler devoted 55 years to mentoring the next generation of osteopathic physicians at MWU/CCOM.

Editor’s note: This obituary was originally published by Midwestern University and has been edited for The DO.

Robert E. Kappler, DO, passed away on Oct. 18, 2017. Dr. Kappler devoted 55 years to mentoring the next generation of osteopathic physicians as a professor and chair of the department of osteopathic medicine at Midwestern University Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (MWU/CCOM). Dr. Kappler graduated from MWU/CCOM in 1958 and later also served as MWU/CCOM’s assistant director of clinics; assistant clinical dean; associate dean, clinical sciences; and as the Chicago Osteopathic Hospital chief of staff.

Robert Kappler, DO (Photo provided by Midwestern University)

Dr. Kappler received the Andrew Taylor Still Medallion of Honor, the highest award presented by the American Academy of Osteopathy (AAO), for his accomplishments, and also received the Fellow of the AAO Distinguished Service Award. Read the AAO obituary here.

Dr. Kappler started the Educational Council on Osteopathic Principles (ECOP), a group that continues to meet to discuss ideas pertaining to the teaching of osteopathic principles and practices. He also founded the osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) fellowship program and was named to the first class of the AOA’s Great Pioneers in Osteopathic Medicine.

During his distinguished career, several professional athletes, dignitaries, and entertainers sought out Dr. Kappler for treatment, including the 1985 Super Bowl champions, the Chicago Bears.


  1. We were ECOP working colleagues and good friends for decades. Dr. Kappler, (Bob, to me) was a long time presiding officer for the latter and one of its founding members. The original proposal for ECOP came from Ira Rumney, DO, who was Chair of the Kirksville OMM program as well as Secretary of the American Academy of Osteopathy. Our decades-longprofessional contacts occurred when Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine was in its infancy. In our roles, he as Chair, and I as Director of ECOP’S Osteopathic Principles Education Project (OPE) , we teamed up to regularly report the the AACOM Council of Deans. During these years, representatives from the growing number of OMM-related osteopathic programs met regularly to deal with important osteopathic principles related inter- institutional issues and concerns. Sleep well, my friend, we shared many wonderful times as our profession grew.
    Robert C Ward, DO, Professor Emeritus, MSUCOM

  2. How fortunate our profession has been to have had so many like Bob Kappler, share so much, for so long.

  3. Dr. Kappler was an amazing OMM master. He could see and feel things that were beyond my understanding as a student. It wasn’t until many years later that I could understand what he had been telling me. He made his treatments and their wonderful results look easy. Thank you for all you shared with me, Kapp!

  4. Dr K helped save my career. I matriculated after interviewing with several Dept. Chairs seeking the best fit for my aspiring career in OMM. Two years later I was drummed out CCOM due to small-school politics. I endured character assassination and trumped-up charges of academic failings no one could really specify. Drs Kappler and Kelso stood by me and paid me for a month of OMM fellowship I had started. Acting Dean Jerry Rodos helped me transfer to Kirksville and I finished in 4 years. Thank God for the character and skills of Dr Kappler who really made a difference in my life

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