Vale: Emeritus Professor Robert Emde

Emeritus Professor Bob Emde in 2016 WAIMH World congress in Prague.

Dear friends and colleagues,

Sadly, Professor Bob Emde died recently in Denver. Bob was one of the founding members of WAIMH, a driving force throughout the revolution of WAIMH and made an Honorary President of WAIMH in 2006. He was Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado Medical School and had a profoundly productive career that spanned many more than 40 years. I first met Bob in 1990 at his clinical service and research laboratory in Denver and I was struck with his enthusiastic generosity and his infectious commitment to understanding infants and young children, and their families within societal and cultural networks. I remember him talking about how he, as a young medical student, experienced the intense spark of curiosity about how from the beginning of life we become who we are. This spark became an enduring flame which drove his research and clinical career thereafter. Bob’s career involved research in the early socioemotional and moral development of infants and young children and from this passion for research in understanding early development, Bob influenced the direction of many early intervention and clinical programs for troubled across the world. At our Brisbane Congress in June this year we were very pleased to acknowledge Bob’s contributions as an amazing and creative researcher, clinician, theoretician and especially his commitment to mentoring young researchers across many disciplines and across many countries and diverse cultures. He was a key founder in the IPA Research Training Program which led to many innovative and transforming research projects. He was a key person in the Zero to Three organisation and with his interest in diagnosis and classification of early childhood mental health difficulties he was instrumental in the development of the DC 0 to 3 Classification.

Bob Emde devoted his professional life to the development of the field of infant mental health. He was a wonderful family man, and we extend our deep condolences to his partner Mary Ann, his children, and grandchildren. His late wife, Joyce, also contributed much to WAIMH over many years.

Bob was very keen that we celebrate the process of mentoring and supporting young enthusiastic researchers through WAIMH, and we will have a symposium devoted to this at the next WAIMH Congress in Ireland. We will have additional opportunities in the future through WAIMH to honour Bob and his contribution to infant mental health and to the professional careers of innumerable people. We will certainly miss Bob, but his enduring legacy for all children is very much an alive, vibrant, and creative one.

Campbell Paul,
President of WAIMH