Russell W. Neuhaus, M.D.

  • Born: November 27, 1950
  • Died: May 24, 2013
  • Location: Austin, Texas

Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705
Tel. (512) 452-8811

Tribute & Message From The Family

Russell W. Neuhaus, M.D., devoted husband, beloved father, and dedicated physician passed away May 24th, 2013 after an epic and spirited fight against complications from Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.

Russ was born on November 27th, 1950 to Verna Buller Neuhaus and Arthur J.H. Neuhaus in Omaha, Nebraska. They lived on a farm on the outskirts of Omaha, where he spent the first eighteen years of his life. From childhood he tended the livestock in sub-zero weather with his younger brother Lowell, taking his chores as seriously as his toys.

In school, Russ distinguished himself early on. He immersed in math and science, where he received multiple academic honors, including graduating at the top of his class. He also cultivated a delight for the unexpected: during a high school staging of "The Sound of Music," his mother, who was in the audience, was surprised to see her reserved, brainy son waltz out on stage as Captain Von Trapp.

With his father at the wheel, and his mother in the backseat balancing a lamp on her lap, Russ left the farmland of Nebraska for the lakeside campus of Northwestern University in 1969. There he tried many things for the first time: sideburns, polyester suits, his first and last beard. He gravitated toward electrical engineering, which he loved for its logic and pragmatism. When his parents came up for his graduation, he told them not to be disappointed if he didn't receive any special recognition. It turned out that Russ was awarded the school's top prize for math and science and graduated summa cum laude. Inspired by like-minded students in his fraternity Sigma Nu, and encouraged by his professors, he decided to pursue medicine after graduation. The field's combination of scholarship and service to others appealed to him.

Trading snow for humidity, Russ chose to attend Baylor Medical School, where he graduated with honors and was selected for Alpha Omega Alpha, an honor medical society. During his time in Houston he made several lifelong friends, several of whom later settled in Austin. He enjoyed taking breaks from studying to tour the then-foreign Texas countryside. He fell in love with Austin. (He did not return until he'd fallen in love with a person, too.) He went to Los Angeles to complete his internship at the UCLA Medical Center and ophthalmology residency at the Jules Stein Eye Institute, followed by an oculoplastic fellowship.

During his residency, Russ went on a double date with a friend. While his own date didn't go very far, he found a match with Cecilia, the love of his life. (Her date didn't go very far either.) After a yearlong courtship of roller-skating down the Santa Monica Boardwalk and sharing ice cream sundaes, Russ and Cecilia married on December 15th, 1979. They lived for almost three years in a cozy bungalow in North Hollywood. In the summer of 1982, when Cecilia was six months pregnant with their first child, Laura, they packed up and moved to Austin, Texas. While Cecilia flew to her new home, the couple's grandmothers arrived to help Russ drive their belongings across the southwest, cementing a lifelong friendship between the two grandmothers.

1982 was a big year for Russ. He opened up a solo practice, hanging his shingle at #9 Medical Arts Square, which he bought from retiring ophthalmologist Otto Lippmann. He purchased a new house near the Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church and assembled his first crib.

A slim rolodex and 20% interest rates were offset by a lot of grit. Russ's bets paid off. The practice gained momentum, and in 1987 he expanded to the 3rd floor of Austin Medical Plaza. Over the next ten years his professional skills grew dramatically. He taught residents and medical students at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, a custom kept up for the rest of his professional life. He published and lectured at medical schools and seminars in the United States and abroad. Russ also helped the FDA with early trials of botulism, which became better known as Botox, and later a cornerstone of his practice. He was committed to his own professional development and valued the time he spent serving the larger medical community through the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Travis County Medical Society, and the Outpatient Ophthalmology Surgery Society Board of Directors.

By 1997 the practice was bustling, and Russ recognized it was time to expand. His trusted friend and colleague John Shore joined the practice. Russ was thrilled – he had long admired John's professionalism and integrity. With a handshake they built a new practice, Texas Oculoplastic Consultants, and expanded it to several satellite offices serving the central Texas community. TOC flourished, adding an operating suite, CAREOS, and later an aesthetic medical spa, Toccare.

Several other distinguished physicians joined the TOC team and helped build the practice, including Sean Blaydon, Todd Shepler, Tanuj Nakra, and Malina Amato. Russ forged close relationships with his colleagues, and was pleased to mentor those of the next generation. Russ understood the importance of each member of the office staff, and prided himself on how long many served. Most of all, Russ excelled -- and reveled -- in the joy and comfort his care afforded his patients. When asked by his children why he became a doctor, he answered without pause "it was the best way I could think to help people."

At home, his family knew Russ for his tireless commitment to family life: cuddling and reading to Laura and Eric every night when they were young, volunteering at innumerable football, swim team, or crew activities at St. Stephen's, and toiling in the heat beside Cecilia in their (well, her) beloved rose garden. His love for his children knew no bounds – which his daughter tested frequently by rolling his hair in plastic pink curlers while he napped. Russ relished family vacations. He often recalled fond memories of playing with Eric and his Hot Wheels collection in a remote cabin in the Rockies, lighting an arsenal of Fourth of July fireworks at the family farm with his Nebraska family, and strolling across the promenade deck on a cruise ship, hand in hand with Cecilia.

After Laura and Eric grew up and left home, Russ loved to visit them – and they loved to see him. With his family alongside him, he attempted to expand his culinary horizons in Hong Kong where Laura studied abroad, and gamely joined the barefoot throngs in crowded temples in India, where she moved after college. He cheered Eric on from the stands at Rice football games, and drank Gatorade while bonding over yard work in Houston where he lived after college. Each special visit was punctuated with so-bad-they're-good one liners, wry commentary, and quiet moments when he shared his admiration for them. While Russ harbored a soft spot for corvettes and classic cars, his most valuable possessions were perhaps his 1970's work shirts riddled with acid spills, paint smears, and barbed wire holes.

A few years ago Russ fulfilled a lifelong dream of returning to his farming roots, when he and Cecilia acquired a "ranch-ette" near Elgin, Texas. He delighted in the company of the windmill and the glorious Texas sunsets, a small herd of cattle, and the simple pleasures of working the land. He perused the Tractor Supply catalog with the enthusiasm of his youth. He relished taking Laura's Yankee fiancé Jonathan to a Bastrop boot emporium to properly outfit him with boots and hat, choosing to overlook the fact that he had no cattle. When Eric moved back to Austin, together they discovered their inner ranchers. Side by side they mowed the grounds, sited and installed the windmill, debated the best brand of barbed wire, and spent many Friday nights hauling loot from the feed store. Against Russ's better judgment, Eric fruitlessly pursued feral hogs.

He was dearly loved and will be forever missed by his wife Cecilia, daughter Laura and fiancé Jonathan Zittrain of Cambridge, Massachusetts, son Eric of Austin, brother Lowell, nephew Matt, and nieces Samantha and Kelly of Omaha, as well as numerous cousins in Nebraska. Preceding him in death are his parents Arthur and Verna, and older brother Neil.

The family would like to extend their deepest gratitude to his primary physicians William Deaton, Jack Bissett, and Michael Kasper for their unsurpassed medical expertise and dedication. Also integral to his care were doctors Brad Winegar, David Morris, Lloyd Berg, and William Wierda.

The family extends its profound appreciation to the ICU, IMC, 4 North and Endoscopy nursing staff; his respiratory therapists including Isidro, Liz, and Jeff; his physical therapists including Martin and Emily; and his occupational therapist Donna. These generous members of the Seton staff treated Russ with complete professionalism and respect, taking their time to get to know him as an individual. By virtue of their unwavering commitment, they forged a unique bond with Russ. They became a powerful support team, rooting for him until the very end.

The family also wishes to thank the many friends and colleagues who visited throughout Russ's extended hospitalization. Their visits brought cheer and encouragement.

Visitation will be Friday, May 31st, 2013 from 5:00 to 7:30 pm at Weed-Corley-Fish North Lamar location. Memorial services will be held at 11:00 am, with a reception to follow, Saturday, June 1, 2013 at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church. Those wishing to may also attend the graveside service at 6:30 pm at Austin Memorial Park, with Pastor Tom Grevlos presiding.

A fund at Austin Smiles and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has been established in honor of Russ. The direct links are listed below: