Allen Barry Rawitch

December 29, 1940November 18, 2021
Obituary of Allen Barry Rawitch
Dr. Allen B. Rawitch, a prolific research biochemist at the University of Kansas Medical School and for 15 years the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of Graduate Studies, died Thursday after a short battle with cancer. He was 80 years old. Rawitch received his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from UCLA. He completed his postdoctoral work on proteins and hormones in the thyroid at the University of Illinois before beginning his teaching career at Kent State University where he spent six years and then was recruited by the University of Kansas Medical School in 1975 where he spent more than 40 years. He was at Kent State when four students were killed and nine were injured May 4, 1970, shot by National Guard troops during an antiwar protest. In serving on a committee searching for a new campus police chief, Rawitch developed an interest in law enforcement that led to 37 years as an Overland Park, Kansas Police Department reserve officer. He volunteered 16 hours a month, initially as a patrol officer. He rose to the rank of captain and later detective. Overland Park Police Chief Frank Donchez upon learning of Rawitch’s death said: “He was a dedicated public servant and what makes that even more important is that it was not his full-time job. But he was as dedicated an any member of the department making his or her living at it. He performed above and beyond the call of duty which is the city’s motto. It couldn’t be more fitting in describing Allen.” Robert Klein, the current Vice Chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs at the KU Medical Center said: “Allen was a coach, a mentor and a friend for my entire administrative career. He cared deeply that the Med Center prospers, and was an advocate for emeritus faculty, wanting the Medical Center to seek the advice and mentorship, where appropriate, from emeritus faculty.” Most of the doctors at the medical center who treated him were his former students. As a researcher and professor teaching biochemistry to more than a thousand future doctors and nurses, Rawitch wrote or co-wrote 80 scientific papers and 40 abstracts of oral presentations, contributed to textbooks and participated on a committee to write the MCAT exam. He also was considered a superb teacher, receiving the Chancellor’s award for outstanding classroom teaching in 1998 and seven times was honored for teaching excellence by a student organization that evaluated classroom teaching by professors. He had been Chair of the Biochemistry Department but never sought senior management at the medical school. However, in 2000 he headed a search committee for Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, but the committee’s three finalists were rejected. Instead, he was asked to take on the role for which he never applied. He accepted the job and oversaw academic affairs for 15 years. When he was not serving as a university administrator or police officer, Rawitch had a passion for ham radio, talking to fellow ham operators locally, around the nation and the world. Some three dozen operators gathered on the radio to pay their respects to him three days prior to his death in a Kansas City hospice facility. Rawitch also actively supported Johnson County 4H, where for decades his wife Pat coached young people to train dogs for obedience and show training. The couple lived on five acres in Stilwell where they bred smooth collies and at various times had chickens, ducks, goats, and sheep. Allen also had a talking green cheeked Amazon parrot for 40 years as well as other birds. Born in Chicago, Rawitch moved to Los Angeles at the age of five. He married his beloved wife Patricia Karlan (Pat) in July 1962 and would have been married 60 years next July. In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Bruce (Alyson) and David (Joi), three grandchildren, Michael (Merritt), Sarah (Zach) and Andrew and one great grandson Harrison Allen. He is also survived by his brother Bob (Cynthia) and their children. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to KU Endowment, 3901 Rainbow Boulevard, Mail Stop 3012, Kansas City, KS 66160. Online contributions may be made at Please indicate that donations are for the Allen Rawitch, PhD memorial which will be used to set up future scholarships in his name. A celebration of life will be held in the near future

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