Robert Buxbaum

  • Died: March 12, 2016
  • Location: Newton, Massachusetts

Eaton & Mackay Funeral Home

465 Centre St
Newton, MA 02458
Tel. (617) 244-2034

Tribute & Message From The Family

Robert Buxbaum died on Saturday, March 12, at age 85, 15 months after his diagnosis of brain cancer. He died as he had wanted, at home, supported by hospice care. Until his illness, Bob was a practicing physician who devoted his long career to preventive and palliative care. He was an activist in public health, taking cutting-edge public policy positions on health for the poor, urban planning for healthier lifestyles, and end-of-life care. He was the son of the late Lillian (Tousman) Madway, and Edwin C. Buxbaum. He graduated in 1952 from Harvard College, and received his MD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1956. He leaves his wife, Ann (Shocket) Buxbaum, and their children: Laura Buxbaum and her husband Brian Dunn; Carl and his wife Dawn Sykes Buxbaum; Paula Buxbaum and her husband Douglas Jones; and Gretchen Nash, as well as seven grandchildren: Jesse Dunn; Isaac, Maia, and Alison Buxbaum; Wylie Jones; and Owen and Nolan Nash. He also leaves his brother Richard and his wife Marjorie, and their daughter and son, Sarah and Peter.
From 1957 to 1959, Bob served in the Public Health Service at San Carlos Apache Reservation in San Carlos, AZ. He completed his medical residency in Madison, WI, and then moved to Newton to serve as one of the first physicians at the Harvard Community Health Plan (later Harvard Vanguard), where he worked for the next 45 years. Later in his career, he focused on end-of-life issues and palliative care, forming a geriatrics and palliative care team with which he continued to practice until he was 84.
He married Ann Shocket in 1955. For the next 60 years they shared their lives, their work, and their enthusiasms. Throughout his life, Bob had many varied passions: His enthusiasm for exploring new ideas and projects did not abate in his older years. He celebrated his 80th birthday by getting a large tattoo--a replica of a Native American design that he loved. When others his age had settled in their rocking chairs, he and Ann were exploring new territory: traveling around Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic on a Russian icebreaker; hiking and kayaking in remote areas in Iceland; and, just before he was diagnosed with his final illness, a walking/hiking trip on six islands in the Azores. Bob was always interested in who you were and what you had to say, and he and Ann regularly welcomed people from near and far into their home. He loved music—to listen and to play; he began playing the oboe at 35 and participated in informal chamber groups until he became ill. Even in his illness, Bob maintained his cheer, his balance, and his strength. He left life as he lived it, with equilibrium and grace, greatly loved by those he left behind.
Donations may be made to Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston
Boston Artists Ensemble;
The Trustees of Reservations; or
VNA Care Hospice

Condolence & Memory Journal

I moved to California in 2009 and sadly lost touch with Bob. News reached me a few years late. He helped launch a small nonprofit that a small group of us founded to improve palliative care and end of life care; single-handedly helping us to keep it afloat both financially and strategically. But beyond that, Bob's talents, wit, energy, and sheer kindness left an indelible mark on me. I am saddened that I let time and distance get in the way, but I am deeply grateful that I knew him and was lucky enough to be mentored by him. I only hope to live as well (and have that amazing bicep and tattoo at 80!). May his memory be a blessing.

Posted by Garen Corbett    October 15, 2021

On the anniversary of his death, Bob is missed. Great colleague at HVMA.

Posted by Annette Radzevich - Boston, MA - coworker   March 06, 2019

Having moved away from the Boston area (Brookline), I've only just learned of Dr. Buxbaum's death. I was greatly saddened. I was a patient of his and became his friend. He was exactly what a physician should be, combining expertise with wisdom and common sense. When I could not understand why my feet itched terribly after my bike ride to work during the winter, he had the answer: the old English malady of chilblanes. His prescription: an extra pair of socks! In time, my wife and I introduced him to German friends, whom he visited there in pursuit of his own interests--not sure if it was opera or just the German language. His was the kind of life to which we should all aspire.
My wife and I will certainly make a contribution to the Trustees of Reservations in his name. May his memory be a blessing to his family and friends.

Howard Husock

Posted by Howard Husock - Rye, NY - friend   August 16, 2017

My favorite memory about the Buxbaum family was phoning home to follow up on a question Ann had. Immediately my ear was filled with loud crisp musical notes, that could only be from live musicians. It was a thrill that gave me butterflies when Ann also confirmed that one of the ensembles was practicing. Despite being at work, it was a pleasure to hear music alive, and unexpectedly present, in the Buxbaum family. May his legacy of courage and curiosity live on after his death. -Rena

Posted by Rena Celeste - S Grafton, MA   March 24, 2016

Posted by Rena Celeste    March 24, 2016

Bob was a very lucky man to have such a wonderful wife in Anne. But who deserved her more than Bob? We counted ourselves lucky to know him.

Posted by Barney Freiberg-Dale - Newton, MA   March 24, 2016

Leave a condolence or a memory.

Posted by Alice & Martin Axelbank - Newton, MA - Friend   March 24, 2016

Dr. Buxbaum was our Internist at Harvard Community Health Plan from the early years through over 30 years at Harvard Vanguard. We were saddened to learn of his death, He exemplified balance and zest for life Condolences to Ann, his children and extended family.

Glenice and Gaylen Kelley

Posted by Glenice and Gaylen Kelley - Middleton, MA   March 23, 2016


Bob was my biggest personal inspiration when I was young, forming my values, and looking for a mentor in whom I could really believe. I believed I him then, and now...over 50 years later!

He was so strong, caring, interested in others, and interested in life. He showed me how you can be true to yourself, your loved ones, and all people you meet, make a powerful difference in their lives...with not one ounce of self-aggrandizement. He was a leader we all wanted to follow. His wife and family are also the greatest. Rest in peace, Bob. You earned it.

Posted by Ross Neisuler - Newton, MA - Friend   March 23, 2016

I just love the photo of Bob to the left of this box. I see his warm blue eyes and his gentle smile. Bob was always could hear him listening. He loved to listen. This is why a conversation with Bob ultimately felt like an interview: like a journalist writing a human interest story - a YOU were that interesting human! But you had to be careful, because there was so much to learn from Bob. He was studied in so many aspects of health and how health care played out in different cultures and societies. I found myself always having to turn the tables on Bob, so that at least some of the conversation could be about him.

Posted by Judith Seltzer - Ashland, MA - Friend   March 23, 2016

My thoughts and prayers are with you and all the family. I remember working with Bob in the Kenmore center years ago in Internal Medicine and urgent care. Years later I re-connected with Bob and his great work with palliative care.He will be missed

Posted by ann butler - Marietta, GA - Coworker   March 23, 2016

So sorry to read this news, Gretchen. Your dad was so welcoming of me when I first started at Harvard Community Health Plan in the early 80s. Loved to chat with him about music and all his multi-interests. He was truly a Renaissance Man and a wonderful physician. it was good to reconnect with him through you when we worked together many years after I left HCHP. my sincere condolences. jack b.

Posted by Jack Bernazzani - foxboro, MA - Coworker   March 21, 2016


During the early 1970s we were introduced to the Buxbaum family as our host family for the METCO (Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity) Program at the Cabot School in Newton, MA. The Buxbaum's were welcoming, warm, inviting, supportive and much more. Forty years later, we still have a family connection. Bob and Ann's humble outreach and understanding across culture and social stratum were always sincere and deeply felt. Dr. Buxbaum was a great man and his legacy will live on through people of many cultures.

Thanks for the memories and caring.
The Joyner's of Dorchester, MA

Posted by M Joyner - Dorchester, MA - Friend   March 21, 2016

Sorry for your loss. I remember us kids sledding on the hill in the backyard
Eddie Martens

Posted by Edward Martens - Newton, MA - Neighbor   March 21, 2016

Bob was wonderfully helpful to me when I was caring for my very elderly mom a number of years ago. I will always think of him with great kindness and appreciation.

Posted by Marian L. Knapp - Chestnut Hill, MA - Friend   March 21, 2016

My regrets on the death of Dr. Buxbaum. He was my first personal physician at Harvard Community Health Plan and took good care of me for a number of years.

We have a family story. I saw his name on my wife's desk. I asked her why she had Bob's name on her desk. She asked why I was scanning her desk and what business was it of mine? I reported that he was my personal physician. She said Oh - well I wasn't going to tell you but he is my hypnotist.

She was seeking hypnotism to reduce her fear of flying prior to our trip to Ireland. When we landed at Shannon everyone else was off the plane before I could wake her up. When asked how the hypnotism worked she reported that it didn't have any effect.

In subsequent years I encountered Bob as we both worked on end of life issues. This was one of his many efforts to improve the world around him.

His active intelligence, desire to help others and joy in life were evident in both phases of my relationship with him.

K.R. Kaffenberger
9 Rockingham Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
617 661 9119

Posted by K.R. Kaffenberger - Cambridge, MA - Friend   March 21, 2016

Wonderful memories from when our children were young and we shared so much. A good man, a great a man, our loss.

Posted by Ed and Cathy martens - Mattapoisett, MA - Neighbor   March 21, 2016

Had worked with Bob at Harvard Community Health Plan and over the years as it evolved. He was very special and we will all miss him very much. Our condolences to his family. A life well lived!

Annette Radzevich MSN FNP

Posted by A friend   March 21, 2016

Please accept my condolences on the loss of this very special man. I had the honor of working with him at Spaulding for 10+ years. He was a kind and caring physician who touched not only his patients but the staff as well. He will be missed may he rest in peace.

Posted by Gail Deneault - Sharon, MA - Coworker   March 20, 2016

It wasn't long ago that I was admiring your Iceland pictures and now I understand why the recent pictures showed Dr. Buxbaum looking less robust. I am so sorry for your loss. I like to remember him hosting the networking breakfasts sponsored by the Massachusetts Compassionate Care Coalition. It was a terrific effort and I know you were both extremely generous. It is still, I think, bearing fruit. Thank you!

Posted by Peg Metzger - Wellesley, MA - Acquaintance   March 20, 2016

Leave a condolence or a memory.

Posted by joel edelstein - boston, MA - Coworker   March 20, 2016

My deepest condolences to your family. We enjoyed seeing Bob every year at family camp at Kingsley Pines. He will be greatly missed. What a truly inspiring man.

Posted by Suzanne Caldwell - Alexandria, VA - Acquaintance   March 20, 2016

Posted by Charlie Tracy - Brookline, MA - Coworker   March 20, 2016

Dr. Buxbaum was my doctor back in the 70's at Harvard Health and he was always a very kind and caring doctor. My condolences to his family.

Posted by A. Morrison - ME - Acquaintance   March 20, 2016

My sincere condolences. Bob was a valued colleague, friend and mentor during our long careers at Harvard Community Health Plan and Harvard Vanguard. He was a true leader and role model and represented the best in medical practice in terms of his clinical skills, humanism and wisdom.

Posted by Joseph Zorn, MD - Lexington, MA - Coworker   March 20, 2016

I was one of the original patients at Harv. Comm Health Plan. Dr. Buxbaum was my Dr. for over 25 years. I never quite lost weight as he wished. But I did develop a regular exercise program of daily swims which I still follow at age 70. His own lifestyle was an inspiration. He was an amazing, multi-talented man and I know was respected and loved by many. My thoughts are with his family at this time. Jean Michaels

Posted by Jean Michaels - Boston, MA - Acquaintance   March 20, 2016

Dear Ann and Family: So sorry for your loss. Bob will always be remembered as a very special part of the fabric of Newton.
Carol Stapleton

Posted by A friend   March 20, 2016

This is a lovely remembrance of a very special man. His intelligence, humor, wisdom and kindness were gifts to all of us as well as examples in how he lived his life to fulfill them. Please accept my family's condolences for your loss.

Posted by Sarah Menchu - Newton, MA - Friend   March 20, 2016

So sorry for your loss. What a good long life Robert enjoyed. So many cannot say the same. He was one of those the Bible call especially strong. Ps. 90:10

Posted by A friend   March 20, 2016