In Memoriam – November 2020

Swaiman was pediatric pioneer Dr. Kenneth Swaiman is remembered as an expert in pediatric neurology and disability. Swaiman, 88, died […]


Swaiman was pediatric pioneer

Dr. Kenneth Swaiman is remembered as an expert in pediatric neurology and disability. Swaiman, 88, died earlier this fall. He lived in Minneapolis and Tucson. 

Dr. Kenneth Swaiman
Dr. Kenneth Swaiman

Swaiman had his roots on Minneapolis’ North Side, hanging out at his father’s Plymouth Avenue barbershop. He attended the University of Minnesota for college, medical school and training programs in pediatrics, neurology and pediatric neurology. 

He was a pioneer in the field of pediatric neurology, helping children with disabilities and diseases of the brain around the world. For decades, he headed the Division of Child Neurology at the U of M, was a full professor of pediatrics and neurology, and ran a research lab. He created and edited the field’s first journal Pediatric Neurology and a major textbook, now titled Swaiman’s Pediatric Neurology: Principles and Practice. He served as a consultant to the NIH and started several Minneapolis-based professional societies – most notably, the Child Neurology Society with more than 2,000 members in 22 countries. 

Above all he put his young patients first. He treated children whose diseases were confounding to others. Doctors worldwide came to rely on him to assist patients with brain disease and associated disabilities. 

He was a Vikings and Twins fan, and enjoyed travel, tennis, short-story writing, the arts and following the news. He and his wife donated a sculpture at the entrance of the Walker Art Museum in memory of their parents. 

He is survived by his wife, Dr. Phyllis Kammerman Sher, children, grandchildren, a great-grandchild and a sister. Services have been held. Memorials preferred to the Child Neurology Foundation at 201 Chicago Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN 55415 or 

Holt was champion for children

Barbara Nelson Holt spent her career working with children with disabilities at the University of Minnesota. Holt died of cancer this fall. She was 75 and lived in Hudson, Wisc. 

Holt grew up in South Minneapolis, graduating from Washburn High School. She attended St. Olaf College and transferred to the University of Minnesota where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in occupational therapy. She excelled at working with children with physical disabilities. 

Barbara Nelson Holt
Barbara Nelson Holt

Upon graduation, she was offered a position at the U of M Rehabilitation Department and became a pediatric supervisor at the U of M Children’s Rehab Center in occupational therapy. She later held a double appointment (half academic and half clinical) at the U of M Medical School and the School of Occupational Therapy. She also served a two-year term as president of the Minnesota Occupational Therapy Association. 

Holt is remembered for not letting significant health challenges slow her down. She stayed busy with her family, enjoyed travel, was proud of her Scandinavian roots, and did much volunteer work. She collected cookbooks and had an uncanny ability to taste a new food item and decipher its ingredients. 

She was preceded in death by her parents and a son. She is survived by her husband, David, a daughter, a son, grandchildren, sisters and a brother. Services have been held. Memorials preferred to Bethel Lutheran Church of Hudson, the University of Minnesota Occupational Therapy Program or Norway House. 

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