From Katrina Wagstaff (daughter of Dr. Robert M. Bennett)
Since 1980, my father, Dr. Robert M. Bennett, did so much to bring awareness to Fibromyalgia, at a time when little was known about the disease and doctors told women, “this is all in your head.”
In 1995, Dad founded the Fibromyalgia Information Foundation. His websites www.myalgia.com and www.fibrozoom.com are still excellent sources of information. Dad also held conferences for the public at the Oregon Convention Center and created fibro friendly exercises.As an expert witness, he helped many women struggling to get insurance to pay for their illness.
Dad has written 67 major book chapters on fibromyalgia, mixed connective tissue disease, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, pseudogout, ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatic illnesses that overlapped with chronic pain states. His work is highly referenced with 19,156 citations on nearly 300 publications (h-index 59).
His scientific discoveries have resulted in 4 patents. As a thought leader, he has been invited to contribute 56 book reviews, invited papers and letters. He has been a reviewer for 34 journals, being on the editorial board or an associate editor for six. He has held multiple national/international positions including past president of the International Myopain Society and the American College of Rheumatology Western region.
His body of work has been recognized by Election to Master of the American College of Rheumatology, the American College of Physicians and the Royal College of Physicians of London. He has been in Marquis Who’s Who in America several times https://marquistopdoctors.com/2018/06/05/robert-martin-bennett/ Besides his medical accomplishments, Dad was quite an athlete. He held a sprinting record at his medical school in London for many years after graduating.
Little known fact: Abrahams, one of the men in the movie, “Chariots of Fire,” came to watch my Dad sprint at his medical school! Dad ran the Portland Marathon and climbed Mount Rainier twice, Mount Jefferson, Mount St. Helens (before eruption) and Mount Hood 10 times. My Dad was a big fan of Frida Kahlo, whom he believed suffered from fibromyalgia. Dad loved his surviving wife (and colleague) Sharon, his children and grandchildren, his garden and Ocicats.
He served four years as a doctor in the RAF (Royal Air Force) and learned to fly later in life himself. He was an incredible man and a huge asset to the Fibromyalgia community.
Thank you for honoring his work once more!
It is with heavy heart that we report the passing of Dr. Robert M. Bennett on May 22, 2020.
When I read the letter from his daughter, Katrina, the news took my breath away for a moment. I can’t count the number of times over the years I thought about Dr. Bennett and his wife, Sharon, wondering how their lives were going and wanting to make sure that he knew how much he touched my life and the millions of other people in the world who live with fibromyalgia.
Dr. Bennett was a hero in my eyes. His medical work, compassion and the sacrifices he made, not only changed people’s lives for the better, but he also set the stage for the future … a better future for people with health issues that are misunderstood and often times stigmatized.
He brought science and class to fibromyalgia, which helped encourage others to believe our pain is real, and improved the way patients were treated, as well as helped to find new ways to reduce our symptoms and suffering. Dr. Bennett was a pioneer and deserves to be remembered for the great contributions he made to the understanding and treatment of fibromyalgia!
Not many people may know this, but in 1997 I went to a seminar in San Diego to hear Dr. Bennett speak. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 1995 and had decided that I wanted to create a non-profit to help people with FM. After hearing him speak, I somehow got up the courage and walked up to the podium after his talk.
I asked him if he would be on my non-profit’s medical advisory board. (The thing was … the National Fibromyalgia Association was hardly even formed yet, and there was no Medical Advisory Board!) He looked at me, paused for a moment, and then said, “Yes, of course!” I was ecstatic! His commitment made me believe that I could tum the NFA into an organization that would help thousands (and even one-day millions) of people with FM.
It was Dr. Bennett, who on blind faith, made a commitment to me (which he kept a thousand times over) to help me build the NFA so that we, the FM community, would have a patient organization that was working in collaboration with the top researchers and medical providers. My life changed right then! For the past 23 years, my life has been about the NFA and helping people with FM and chronic pain.
There is a footnote to this story …
Often when he would speak at one of the NFA’s conferences, or help me by presenting at one of our CME programs, he would start off by telling the story of my asking him to be on the NFA Medical Advisory Board. He would laugh and say that when he said yes, he actually never expected to hear from me again! He would then say, “Little did I know what Lynne had planned and how much I was committing to! ” Everyone would laugh because they knew how much he had contributed to the NFA and many other organizations and programs! We also knew that Dr. Bennett was happy to help and his passion and dedication to the understanding and treating of people with FM were why he never said “no” when you would ask him for help!
In 2008 Dr. Bennett was on the cover and featured in the lead article in Vol I7 of FM Aware Magazine, the flagship publication of the NFA. He also wrote the following article for our website, providing extensive information on FM for the fibromyalgia community.
Dr. Bennett’s scientific findings and compassionate care of people with FM will always be remembered.
To his wife, Sharon Bennett, daughter, Katrina and his family and friends, I wish to extend my sincere sympathies on your loss. And, on behalf of the National Fibromyalgia Association I am honored and pleased to help make sure that Dr. Robert M. Bennett’s legacy will be shared and preserved.
Lynne Kennedy Matallana
President and Founder National Fibromyalgia Association