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Dr. Peter J. Hauri, PhD

Rochester, Minn. — Dr. Peter Hauri, PhD, passed away unexpectedly in the early morning hours of Thursday, Jan. 31, 2012, his death caused by a fall on the ice the day before. He developed bleeding in his brain, which caused the surrounding tissue to swell, severely damaging his brain. He passed away peacefully with his wife and youngest son present.

Peter was born in Switzerland, in the town of Sirnach, Canton Thurgau. His birth date was June 25, 1933. He was the fourth of six children born to Rudolf and Verena Wirz Hauri. He served in the Swiss Army, an all-civilian army as a young man, gaining the rank of Lieutenant quickly. He attended Teacher’s College and taught junior high school students for three years at the International Children’s Village. He taught a lot of subjects, but mostly taught science, math, and German language to orphaned children from many European countries that had lost their parents in World War II. During that time, he had a chance meeting with a visiting teachers group from the United States, and was invited to attend college for one year in the Chicago area to explore whether he liked Psychology as a career. He fell in love with one of his host family’s daughters, Debbie Jo Rea. He and Debbie decided to work together to allow Peter to get a PhD in Psychology at the University of Chicago. To pay student loans, he found a job in the first sleep study lab in the United States, with Dr. Allen Rechtshaffen, MD, (at the University of Chicago). Since Peter had been in the Signal Corps in the Swiss Army, he knew how to solder wire, and this was the primary reason he was hired.

Peter began to study a number of aspects of sleep that are now well-established and understood, like REM (dream) sleep, insomnia, narcolepsy, parasomnias, etc. It was in the area of insomnia and its treatment for which Peter became well known. He wrote a practical book for patients called “No More Sleepless Nights”, co-authored with Shirley Linde, PhD. He also wrote a clinicians’ book called “The Sleep Disorders”, a very readable book that allowed any type of doctor to grasp new (at the time) research easily. In fact, Peter’s great gift was in taking more complex topics and making them easily understood. Peter’s sense of humor, enthusiasm, and grasp of what each type of audience wanted to learn made him a popular speaker in a variety of settings. Because sleep disorders were such a new topic in the 1960’s, Peter saw the need for new researchers to meet regularly; he either formed or helped to form all of the professional sleep societies in the United States today. The sleep societies include the Sleep Research Society, the American Sleep Disorders Association, the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, AASM, ASDC, ABSM, and the National Sleep Foundation. He also served on a number of the boards of these organizations over a great number of years. He was a true problem solver, and he brought together people in the basic science area with clinicians to gain from each other’s knowledge.

Peter was also instrumental in developing the classification of sleep disorders; this has been pivotal for doctors’ understanding and treatment of a number of diagnoses in sleep. Peter met his second wife, Dr. Cynthia Cleveland, when they pursued a study to look at how doctors who were new to Sleep Medicine viewed diagnostic criteria compared to long-term sleep professionals. He was honored with an “Excellence in Insomnia Research and Education Award” in March 2011 by the National Sleep Foundation. He has received numerous rewards in sleep, as a college professor, and as the Co-Chairman of the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorder Center. Peter is considered by his colleagues as one of the founders of Sleep Medicine.

Peter was as much a clinical psychologist as a sleep researcher. He taught psychology and abnormal psychology at the college level. He also supervised master’s level psychologists in Behavioral Medicine. He was the Head of the Behavioral Medicine Section of the Mayo Clinic Department of Psychology. Peter was a Professor in Psychology at the University of Virginia, Dartmouth University Medical School, and Mayo Medical School during his career.

Another truly amazing task Peter took on was raising a second family with his second love, Cindy. They realized it might be crazy to start a family when Peter was 23 years older than Cindy, but, of course, they did it. Peter’s final child was born when he was 62. Peter took a big part in taking care of his second son, Matthew. He didn’t have the traditional retirement lifestyle; looking out for Matt, and always looking for something productive to do in his free time.

Peter was dedicated to a number of charitable organizations, such as Project Hope, Doctors without Borders, Planned Parenthood, The Sierra Club, and Habitat for Humanity. A passion from his early years was involvement in Boy Scouts. From being a leader as young as 14 in Switzerland, to seeing his son David become an Eagle Scout, he was very dedicated. He also volunteered for most of his children’s interests and activities. This included helping to build the Soldier’s Field play ground for younger kids; coaching soccer, and volunteering regularly to judge the junior high and high school science fairs. He was an active member of the Congregational Church and was involved with the Stewardship and Benevolence Committee.

Peter is survived by his wife, Cindy Cleveland Hauri, his former wife, Debbie Jo Rea-Hauri, his daughter, Heidi Hauri-Gill, grandchildren, Conner and Christopher Gill; son-in-law, Robert Gill; his son, David Courard-Hauri, grandchildren, Kayleigh and Julianna Courard-Hauri, daughter-in-law, Frederique Courard-Hauri; daughter Katrin Kasper, grandchildren, Grant and Grace Kasper, son-in-law Kent Kasper; son, Matthew Hauri, his older sister, Rosmarie Saxer, and younger sister Dorothee Hofer; eight nieces, nephews and their spouses and children.

A funeral service will be on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, at 11 a.m. at the Congregational Church in Rochester with the Revered Garth Schumacher officiating. Visitation will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8, 2013, at Ranfranz & Vine Funeral Homes and one hour prior to the service on Saturday at the church.

Peter requests, in lieu of flowers, that memorials be sent to Ronald C. Petersen, MD who is the head of Alzheimers Disease Research, 200 1st Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905.