Samuel Robert Nussbaum

Sam Nussbaum

Physician, researcher, professor, health care executive, jam-maker, gardener, architecture aficionado, world traveler, runner, beloved husband, father, and grandfather Sam Nussbaum passed away on September 23rd at his home in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts.  The cause was pancreatic cancer.

Nussbaum came to St. Louis in 1996 to become executive vice president, Medical Affairs and System Integration of BJC Health Care. Nussbaum fell in love with the city of St. Louis, and was deeply involved in the Clayton and Washington University Communities.

He and his wife of 52  years, Rhoda, recently made a leadership gift to the Clayton Century Foundation to fund improvements at Oak Knoll Park, and underwrote the creation of Nussbaum Plaza at the Brown School of Public Health.

He loved taking visitors for bike rides and walking tours of St. Louis’s landmarks and architecture. His enthusiasm for the St. Louis Zoo and the City Museum equaled or exceeded that of his grandchildren.

Nussbaum led a long and varied career in healthcare that began with two decades at Harvard Medical School  and Massachusetts General Hospital, where his research paved the way for the creation of synthetic parathyroid hormone and other drugs and treatments for osteoporosis.

In St. Louis, he sponsored and mentored undergraduate and public health graduate students. He and his wife, Rhoda, enjoyed hosting students for lunches and dinners in their nearby home. They also housed out-of-state political campaign workers, who they referred to as  their “Wandering Dems.”

Nussbaum later became Executive Vice President, Clinical Health Policy, and Chief Medical Officer for Anthem, the Indianapolis-based health insurer, where he received the 2004 Physician Executive Award of Excellence from the American College of Physician Executives and Modern Physician magazine.

Upon retiring from Anthem, he served as an advisor to the health care law firm Epstein Becker Green, and was a senior advisor to the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and Sandbox Industries. He was advising startups, biotech firms, publicly traded companies, and pension funds until the weeks leading up to his death. Of particular interest to him were companies developing  tests that would allow for the early detection of major diseases.

Nussbaum loved growing his own vegetables and had his own “orchard” of fruit trees and berry bushes, from which he made his signature “Sam’s jam.” Upon moving From Boston to Saint Louis, he hired two trucks, a moving truck for furniture, and a flatbed for his fruit trees.

He was a lover of cats, and had to be warned, when attending cat shows, to not return home with additional cats– a warning he occasionally failed to heed.

He loved traveling with his wife of 52 years, Rhoda.  Together, they biked in the Loire Valley, hiked through the rainforests of Costa Rica, and more recently, sailed  the Galapagos Islands.

Nussbaum grew up in Kingston, New York, the middle of three children. He spent summers working at several “Borscht Belt” hotels, including the Bonnie View, which was owned by his family.

After finishing Kingston high school in three years, Nussbaum matriculated to the Scholars Program at New York University, where he met his wife, Rhoda.  Nussbaum received his MD from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, graduating first in his class. He trained in internal medicine at Stanford University and Massachusetts General Hospital and in endocrinology at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Rhoda Kahn Nussbaum, his son Jeffrey, his daughters Cara (Scott Fudemberg) and Barrie (Dan Levine), six grandchildren, two nieces, Lisa and Jessica, and five grand-nieces and nephews.  He is also survived by his sister Ila (John Falvey), brother Bruce Nussbaum, two surprisingly devoted cats, and several dozen jars of his homegrown raspberry jam.

A memorial service will be held at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center on Wednesday, September 29th . One of his favorite sayings was that life was lived in three phases: learning, earning, and, through mentorship, teaching, and charity, returning. In lieu of flowers, gifts in Dr. Nussbaum’s memory can be directed toward the Nussbaum Family fund at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, the MV Hebrew Center Summer Institute, or to a charity of your choice.