It is with great sadness that I inform you that Richard D. Brasington Jr., MD, a highly regarded professor emeritus of medicine and former director of the rheumatology fellowship training program at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, drowned April 30, 2023, while fishing in the North Fork River in Ozark, Mo. He was 71.
Dr. Brasington joined the Rheumatology faculty in the Department of Medicine in 1996 and trained dozens of medical residents and fellows. He served as course director for the second-year rheumatology course for medical students and mentored many third-year students who trained in his clinic. He also directed the university’s rheumatology clinic and the rheumatology division’s fellowship training program for many years.
While his primary focus was on education and delivering outstanding patient care, Dr. Brasington also pioneered a new trainee evaluation tool that was subsequently used at many rheumatology centers around the country. Further, he played a key role in developing a curriculum guide for the American College of Rheumatology that was used in rheumatology fellowship training programs across the US. Dr. Brasington also enrolled patients in clinical studies, established a clinical trials unit in the Division of Rheumatology and earned national recognition for his involvement in several large clinical studies. A member of the American College of Rheumatology, he was named a master of that group in 2008, 2009 and 2018. He also received the organization’s Distinguished Program Directors’ Award in 2015. He was also a fellow in the American College of Physicians, and in 2016-17 he served as president of the Washington University chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society.
In addition to his work in rheumatology, Dr. Brasington and his family cared deeply about mental health and wellness. In 2010, he played a key role in creating the James and Philip Brasington Memorial Endowed Fund in the medical school’s Department of Psychiatry. The fund supports educational programs in psychiatry and honors medical students who demonstrate excellent preclinical and clinical academic performance in psychiatry.
“Dr. Brasington was an outstanding clinician, renowned for his ability to diagnose and treat patients with complex rheumatic and autoimmune disorders,” said Victoria J. Fraser, MD, the Adolphus Busch Professor and head of the Department of Medicine. “He was warm, caring and compassionate and deeply loved by his patients. He also was an exceptional teacher with a tremendous knowledge and a passion for sharing what he knew with his trainees. He had incredible energy and enthusiasm for rheumatology, medicine, teaching and life. He was witty, creative and fun to be with, and he will be sorely missed.”
In his personal time, Dr. Brasington played the guitar and other musical instruments. While growing up, he and his siblings formed the Brasington Family Band. He also was an avid fisherman who tied his own flies, and he was particularly passionate about trout fishing.
Dr. Brasington earned his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1974 and his medical degree from Duke University in 1980. He then completed his training with an internal medicine residency and rheumatology fellowship at the University of Iowa.
He is survived by his wife, Kathleen Ferrell; children Ned Brasington, William Bashert and Liz Dueweke; stepdaughter, Melissa Haralson; siblings Evan Brasington and Becky Clark; six grandchildren; and three great grandchildren.
Visitation is from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, May 13, at Bopp Chapel, 10610 Manchester Road, Kirkwood, Mo., with a service immediately following. Interment will be at Rose Hill Cemetery in Marion, Ill.
Memorial contributions may be made to the James and Philip Brasington Prize at Washington University School of Medicine, MSC 1082-414-2555, c/o Emily Williams, 1 Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, 63130-9989. Or they may be made to the Chamber Music Society of St. Louis, 222 S. Central Ave., Suite 501, St. Louis, MO, 63105; or the Herb Society Legacy Fund at Missouri Botanical Garden, Commemorative Giving Program, P.O. Box 17419, St. Louis, MO, 63178-7419.