Age: 76 yrs. 10 mos. 23 dys.
S/O George Waldo Abbe & Charlotte (Colgate) Abbe
2nd H/O Catharine Amory (Bennett) Palmer Abbe (23 Jul 1843-25 Sep 1920); m 14 Nov 1891, Manhattan, New York City, New York County, New York, USA
Dr. Robert Abbe was a man of many interests and talents. He was a world-famous surgeon and medical pioneer, humanitarian and artist.
Robert Abbe was born in New York City. His father was a businessman, philanthropist and a leader of the Baptist Church. Robert’s brother, Cleveland, was a meteorologist who developed what became the National Weather Service.
Dr. Abbe was an attending surgeon at St. Luke’s Hospital in New York, where the plastic surgical laboratory is named for him. He developed new techniques for facial, internal and spinal plastic surgery that are still used today.
Dr. Abbe treated Courtlandt Palmer, Jr. when he suffered an appendicitis attack at Dunmore Lake, Salisbury, VT. That is when Abbe met his future wife, Catherine Palmer.
In 1904, after corresponding with Marie and Pierre Curie about their research on radiation, he visited their laboratories in Paris. Convinced of the benefits of radiation therapy, Dr. Abbe brought samples back and began experimental therapies for cancer treatment. Today, he is known as the founder of radiation therapy in the United States.
At the time, researchers knew little about the risks of radiation exposure. Toward the end of his life, Dr. Abbe suffered from a rare form of anemia that was likely the result of exposure to radiation.
In Maine, Dr. Abbe is remembered for his many contributions toward preserving and enhancing the quality of life on Mount Desert Island, and the founding of the Abbe Museum for the study of the Wabanaki Indians.
Obituary, Times Union (Brooklyn, NY), Thu, 8 Mar 1928, pg. 20:
DR. R. ABBE DIES; PIONEER ON CANCER
First American to Use Radium Awaited Mme. Curie.
Dr. Robert Abbe, the first American surgeon to use radium in the treatment of cancer, died yesterday at his home, 40 W. 59th st., Manhattan, at the age of 77. His death came five years after his retirement from active practice and a month before a visit to this country of Mme. Marie Curie, discoverer of radium, who had expressed a desire to see him upon her arrival in New York.
Dr. Abbe graduated from City College in 1870 and from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, in 1874. After serving as attending surgeon in the outpatient department of New York Hospital he was professor of didactic surgery at the Women’s Medical College. He was also, at various times, connected as surgeon with the New York Cancer Hospital, the New York Babies’ Hospital, the New York Post Graduate Medical School, was lecturer on surgery at the College of Physicians and Surgeons and consulting surgeon at the Roosevelt, Women’s and Babies’ Hospitals and at the Hospital for Ruptured and Crippled.
He is survived only by a sister, Miss H. C. Abbe, of 5 E. 32d st., Manhattan.
Subject of entry 743 of "Abbe-Abbey Genealogy/In Memory of John Abbe and his Descendants" by Cleveland Abbe & Josephine Genung Nichols, 1916:
743. ROBERT⑧ ABBE, son of George Waldo⑦ and Charlotte (Colgate) Abbe, born in New York City, April 13, 1851. Resides in New York City, a surgeon. He was graduated from the College of the City of New York, A.B., 1870; College of Physicians and Surgeons, M.D., 1874. From 1870 to 1872 he was an instructor in English, drawing and geometry, City College; attending surgeon, out-patient department, New York Hospital, 1877-84; professor of didactic surgery, Women’s Medical Collge, two years; professor of surgery at New York Post-Graduate Medical School, 1889-97; lecturer on surgery at Columbia Medical School since 1898; surgeon at St. Luke’s Hospital since 1884; New York Cancer Hospital, since 1893; attending surgeon New York Babies’ Hospital 1892-7; consulting surgeon for Roosevelt, Woman’s and Babies’ hospitals and Hospital for Ruptured and Crippled Children. He has made a special study of the use of radium and is the author of many scientific treatises.
Married November 14, 1891, CATHERINE AMORY BENNETT, widow of Courtlandt Palmer. She has taken a prominent part in the establishment of the City History Club Work, and has been its president for some years.
Catharine Amory Bennett Abbe
1843–1920 (m. 1891)
DIED MARCH 7, 1928
DIED SEPT. 20, 1920
Gravesite Details Cemetery records stipulate that "no mausoleum shall be erected on the said lot"