Dr. Robert Grayson, longtime pediatrician, dies at 94

Dr. Robert Grayson was a pediatrician on Miami Beach for almost 40 years.
Dr. Robert Grayson was a pediatrician on Miami Beach for almost 40 years.
Grayson family

As a pediatrician for almost four decades, Robert Grayson would do anything it took to help his patient — even give his own blood.

During the 1960s, Grayson was treating an infant girl who needed O-negative blood. There was none in the blood bank, so he rolled up his sleeve, had the nurse pump out his blood and, with his other arm, fed the blood into the girl’s small body. It saved her life.

“That’s the type of man he was,” said his daughter, Jane Grayson. “He did whatever it took.”

Robert Grayson, who treated hundreds of children from 1949 to 1986 as a pediatrician in Miami Beach and was active in the American Academy of Pediatrics, died Aug. 4 of lymphoma. He was 94.

Jane Grayson said her dad made a name around town for being able to “make it all better” for his patients and all the neighborhood kids, even after he retired in 1986.

“All the moms would send their kids to him with their boo-boos,” his daughter said. “Kids were always knocking on our door.”

Born in New Jersey on March 12, 1919, Robert Grayson grew up loving science and experimenting, his daughter said. When he graduated from high school, he got a scholarship to Princeton University, where he graduated 1in 1940. He then went to Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

While a student at Princeton, he met Shirley Singer at a party.

“My mom said he was very charming,” said Jane Grayson, whose mother died in 2003.

The couple married in November 1942, but shortly afterward he enlisted in the Army. He remained in medical school, and then served in Hershey, Pa., performing induction exams for new members of the armed forces.

After Grayson left the Army, he studied pediatrics at Duke University before coming to Miami Beach, his wife’s hometown. The couple and their two children moved to Surfside, and he set up practice in a converted house on 71st Street. He quickly became known as the neighborhood pediatrician.

Joan Bornstein met Robert Grayson at a Miami Beach temple in the late 1950s and immediately chose him as her child’s doctor. In 1958, she brought her son David in, and soon learned that her son had lymphoma.

“He picked David up off the table, told everyone in the waiting to go home and carried him to the car,” Bornstein said. “He stayed with him at the hospital and did everything he could.”

She said that for the next six months — until the day David died — Robert Grayson wrote letters to other doctors, researched the disease and never gave up his quest to save the child’s life.

“He was more than just a pediatrician,” Bornstein said.

For Norma Orovitz having Robert Grayson as a pediatrician made being a new mother a little easier.

Two weeks after her daughter Judy was born in 1964, Grayson visited Orovitz at her home instead of having her come to the office.

“He wanted to see her in her natural environment,” she said. “He was very reassuring, which I needed.”

Shirley Press, also a pediatrician, met Grayson in the late 1970s through the Greater Miami Pediatric Society, and would cover for him when necessary. She said she remembers him in 1979 showing her an index card catalog in filing cabinets with information on different poisons and how to treat overdoses.

“He was a real visionary,” she said.

After Grayson retired, he remained active with the American Academy of Pediatrics. He took several leadership roles, including one that led to the formation of 15 poison-control centers in Florida.

He loved to travel, and visited China, Indonesia and the Galapagos Islands. Jane Grayson said her dad climbed Machu Picchu in his 70s.

“He was fearless,” she said.

He also took pride in his rose garden and bromeliads in his back yard.

“He was good at everything he did,” she said.

In addition to his daughter, Robert Grayson is survived by his son, Bill.

Services were private.

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