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Burton Giges

December 7, 1924 March 7, 2022
Burton Giges
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Obituary for Burton Giges

Burton (Burt) Giges, MD passed away on March 7, 2022, at the age of 97. He was a gifted physician and therapist, inspiring teacher and beloved husband, father and grandfather.

Burt, the third son of Jenny and Elias Giges and younger brother of H. Melvin (deceased) and Gerald (deceased), was born in New York City on December 7, 1924. From childhood, he was recognized for his curiosity and outstanding intellect. He attended City College of New York, where he pursued his love of competitive sport as a fencing team member. Afterward, he attended New York University College of Medicine, graduating first in his medical school class. He entered medicine as an internist and infectious disease specialist. Mobilized for national service during the Korean War, he conducted clinical research at Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, MD and completed his military service as an US Army captain. Working at one of the nation’s leading research institutes, Rockefeller University, he focused on hepatic (liver) diseases. His research appeared regularly in peer-review journals – including the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Afterward, he completed a second residency and became dual board-certified in internal medicine and psychiatry. He was Chief Resident and a faculty member at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. A gifted leader, he served as the Director of Community Mental Health Services for Westchester County, New York. He simultaneously established a successful private psychiatric practice in New Rochelle, New York and later was named a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. After years of medical practice and guidance to other psychologists and psychiatrists in hospital, community and private practice settings, Burt began the third phase of his career – in sport psychology – when he was in his mid-60s.

He began attending sport psychology conferences, meeting colleagues, and leading self-awareness workshops, which led to his appointment as Clinical Professor of Psychology at Springfield College, serving as president of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) in 2007-2008, and receiving the organization’s Distinguished Professional Practice Award in 2018. Calling upon his medical training, he incorporated the therapist’s theoretical foundation, including psychodynamic, humanistic, existential, cognitive-behavioral, and gestalt approaches to help athlete-clients identify and address psychological barriers to goal attainment. His keen attention to the harmful effects of self-critical thoughts enabled scores of athletes – some of who would later compete in the Olympics – to reach higher performance levels.

Burt proved to be an outstanding teacher, excellent advisor, sought-after speaker and influential practitioner. One of the noted contributions to the professional community, his workshop presentations were a highlight of many conferences. He would typically invite a volunteer to the stage for a live consulting session. During the session, he would periodically pause, turn to the audience, discuss his thought process, provide several directions for the session, and then explain his chosen approach. Dr. Giges would then return to the client to continue their conversation. His ability to share the “art” of sport psychology consulting was so well regarded that the “Burt Giges Workshop” (featuring other presenters in the interactive format in which he excelled) has continued to be a regular feature at the AASP Annual Conference. His counseling and therapeutic approach were also featured in sport psychology consulting videos.

During the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, Burt remained engaged with students and colleagues. He taught by Zoom and held a Springfield College ID that was current through the last year of his life. When a colleague mentioned their own impending retirement, Burt, age 97, said he might retire in May 2022.

Although Burt did not make it to his target retirement date, he dedicated much of his life to enjoying close relationships with his wife of 67 years, Ilka (nee Gross), daughters Elinor Bashe and Julie Silver, sons-in-law Gil Bashe and Bruce Silver, and grandchildren Jennifer Silver, Ennis Rook Bashe and Zachary Silver. Burt had an unwavering belief in human potential and the value of each individual. He will be deeply missed by his loved ones as well as those fortunate enough to have been inspired by his wisdom.

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