Posted on: November 4, 2021
Dr. Robert Eugene McLaughlin, professor emeritus of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Virginia and longtime resident of Charlottesville, passed away on September 5, 2021 at the age of 86. He was born in Quincy, Massachusetts on July 2, 1935, the son of Eugene R. and Mary J. McLaughlin. After attending Boston College High School he enrolled in the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. Dr. McLaughlin earned his medical degree at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, PA. He completed his training in General and Orthopaedic surgery at Boston City Hospital and served as a Captain and Flight Surgeon in the United States Air Force in Vietnam and Japan.
In 1968, Dr. McLaughlin joined the faculty of the Department of Orthopaedics at the University of Virginia. Starting as an instructor, he eventually rose to the rank of full professor and Vice Chairman of the department and was awarded the S. Ward Casscells Professor of Orthopaedics endowed chair. In the early 1970s, he was part of a team at UVA that performed one of the first total joint replacements in the United States. He performed thousands of these procedures throughout his forty-plus year career at the University. Dr. McLaughlin was the author of numerous scientific publications and presentations. He was a member of many professional organizations and is the former president of the Virginia Orthopaedic Society and the Irish American Orthopaedic Society. He was on the editorial board for Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, administered the oral examinations for the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and represented Virginia as a delegate to the Board of Councilors of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery. After his official retirement in 2000, he continued to care for patients with orthopaedic concerns at outreach clinics in Dillwyn, Louisa, Orange and Albemarle County. Throughout his career, Dr. McLaughlin trained hundreds of orthopaedic surgeons who went on to improve the lives of countless individuals. Many of those surgeons currently practice at the University. His contributions to UVA Orthopaedics built the foundation for the nationally recognized program it is today. He felt tremendously fortunate to have found a profession that he truly loved, often saying he never worked a day in his life, and enjoyed nothing more than engaging with hospital colleagues and caring for patients.
In addition to his professional accomplishments, Dr. McLaughlin, also affectionately known to many as “Dr. Mac,” was a kind, humble and generous man. He had a strong and lifelong devotion to his faith, believing deeply in the importance of service to others, and was an active parishioner at St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish for over fifty years. He always chose to see the best in people and encouraged others to do the same. Born with a remarkably giving spirit, he never passed up a chance to help those in need. Anyone who knew him recognized his admiration for his Irish ancestry. He cherished traveling to Ireland with his family to play the links of Westport and Lahinch. Dr. McLaughlin was incredibly proud of his military service and could be seen wearing his veteran cap on memorial holidays. He was an avid reader, and when finished with a book always gifted it to a friend or family member he knew would enjoy it. A devoted husband, father and grandfather, he was unfailingly loyal to his family. One of his greatest joys in life was being “Pop Pop” to his thirteen grandchildren. He never missed an opportunity to spend time with them, frequently traveling to attend birthdays, sports games and special events. The time he spent with them on Cape Cod Bay were some of his happiest moments. He lived with a grateful heart and often expressed how he had been blessed with a wonderful life.
Dr. McLaughlin is survived by his wife of 53 years, Julia Hogarty McLaughlin; children, Mark McLaughlin and wife Suzanne, granddaughters Fiona and Nora of Santa Monica, CA; Dr. Robert McLaughlin II, grandchildren Robbie, Caitlin and Jack of Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA; Patrick McLaughlin and wife Erica, grandchildren Maggie, Colin and Charlie of Crozet, VA; Vanessa Scanzillo and husband Andrew, granddaughters Cate and Elizabeth of Scituate, MA; Moriah Rogers and husband Seth, grandchildren Liam, Julia and Charlotte of Hingham, MA. He is also survived by his sister, Mary Lee Girouard of Lawrence, MA.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in Dr. McLaughlin’s honor to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.