Gerold L. Schiebler, MD

In remembrance of Gerold L. Schiebler, MD, ‘a giant among men’
By Erika D. Peterman, FMA Managing Editor

FMA Past President Gerold L. Schiebler, MD, a giant of pediatric medicine, a mentor to numerous physician leaders, and an unparalleled advocate for children in Florida, passed away on Saturday, March 2, at age 95 in Amelia Island. Dr. Schiebler’s passing is an immeasurable loss for the FMA, the University of Florida Department of Pediatrics, where he served as chair for 17 years, and the state’s medical community as a whole.

A native of Hamburg, Pa., Dr. Schiebler was the son of German parents who immigrated separately to the U.S. through Ellis Island in the early 1920s. He earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1954, then completed his medical internship and residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Mayo Clinic.

FMA Past President and longtime UF Department of Pediatrics Chair Gerold L. Schiebler, MD, with a young patient. Dr. Schiebler passed away on March 2. (Photo from the University of Florida Digital Collections)

Dr. Schiebler joined the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville as Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in 1960. He was the first pediatric cardiologist in North Florida and, at the time, one of only three in the entire state. He became Chair of the Department of Pediatrics in 1968. Dr. Schiebler took on the role of Associate Vice President for Health Affairs for External Relations in 1985, remaining in that position until he retired in 2000.

Dr. Schiebler was a key figure in the founding of Florida’s Children’s Medical Services (CMS) program, and he served CMS in many capacities, including statewide director. Along with his wife, the late Audrey Lincourt Schiebler, he pushed for the establishment of critical state laws, services, and programs to advance child welfare in Florida: child protection teams, poison control centers, and regional neonatal and perinatal intensive care centers, to name just a few. In the early 1980s, Dr. Schiebler was instrumental in securing state funding for a program for impaired physicians, which later became the Professionals Resource Network (PRN). Dr. Schiebler was actively involved with PRN until the time of his passing.

The UF Health Gerold L. Schiebler CMS Center in Gainesville was named for and dedicated to him in 1991.

“He was the pediatrician’s pediatrician,” said FMA President-Elect Lisa Cosgrove, MD, a pediatrician who first met Dr. Schiebler when she joined the FMA in 1995. “Every pediatrician in Florida looked up to him. Children were his number-one priority.”

Dr. Cosgrove credited Dr. Schiebler with advising and supporting her along her leadership journey in the FMA. He had even made arrangements to travel to Orlando this August to induct her as the FMA’s 148th President during the 2024 Annual Meeting. Throughout his retirement, he remained a tireless champion for vulnerable children, organized medicine, and his fellow physicians.

“He just never gave up,” Dr. Cosgrove said.

FMA Past President and AMA Board of Trustees member Madelyn Butler, MD, called Dr. Schiebler “a giant among men.”

“I consider Dr. Schiebler my academic father, the single person who had the greatest influence on me regarding the kind of professional I wanted to become,” said Dr. Butler, who earned her medical degree from the University of Florida College of Medicine. “He was my greatest role model.” 

Dr. Schiebler and his wife, the late Audrey Lincourt Schiebler, with late pediatric endocrinologist Arlan Rosenbloom, MD, at UF Health’s Gerold L. Schiebler CMS Center in Gainesville. The Children’s Medical Services (CMS) Center was named for and dedicated to Dr. Schiebler in 1991. (Photo from the University of Florida Digital Collections)

In addition to serving as FMA President from 1991-92, Dr. Schiebler was FMA PAC President from 1996-98. FMA Chief Financial Officer Kristy Jones, who worked closely with him for more than 26 years, remembered Dr. Schiebler as an effective, enthusiastic fundraiser for the FMA PAC — one who had been a 1000+ Club member for every election cycle.

“At FMA Annual Meetings, he would often approach every delegate who did not have a PAC ribbon and encourage them to join the PAC,” Jones said.

On a personal note, she described Dr. Schiebler as a friend and a great support to her as the parent of a child who was born with a congenital heart defect.

“He took a great interest in following my son’s medical care as he transitioned from a child to a young adult,” Jones said. “Dr. Schiebler made the phone calls necessary to get all of (my son’s) medical care transferred back to UF Health, personally selected his doctors, and kept tabs on him during his 2011 surgery. He and Miss Audrey visited us at the hospital.”

Among Dr. Schiebler’s many awards and honors are the UF College of Medicine’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the American Academy of Pediatrics Donald Schiff, MD, FAAP Child Advocacy Award. The FMA’s Gerold L. Schiebler, MD Advocate for Medical Students Award was renamed in his honor in 2008.

In the Oct. 12, 2000, Congressional Record, then-U.S. Rep. Karen Thurman of Florida paid tribute to Dr. Schiebler’s remarkable career and quoted his colleague, the late pediatric endocrinologist Arlan Rosenbloom, MD:

“ ‘(Dr. Schiebler) never, never did anything for Gerry Schiebler. He always acted for the kids for whom he felt responsible, for his family or for his academic family. Never self-serving, he is the most unselfish, caring person of power you will ever meet.’

“I couldn’t agree more. Thank you, Dr. Schiebler.”

The FMA extends heartfelt condolences to Dr. Schiebler’s children and grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to the Gerold L. Schiebler, MD, and Audrey Lincourt Schiebler Children’s Advocacy Fellowship in Pediatrics.

More appreciation for Gerold L. Schiebler, MD

“He was a great academician, teacher, mentor, husband, father, lobbyist, statesman, citizen, and children’s advocate. Dr. Schiebler, to those who were lucky enough to know him, was a giant among men.” —  FMA Past President Madelyn Butler, MD

“Dr. Schiebler was not only an incredible and inspiring mentor in pediatric cardiology. He was one of the most knowledgeable members of our medical profession regarding the politics of medicine. His personal relationships with legislators were legendary. When you walked with him at the Capitol, he knew each legislator, their spouse and children's names, as well as their outside interests. He could relate to them on a level rarely achieved in our busy profession. He was highly effective in getting his issues discussed and understood by the Legislature. I feel very lucky to be able to call him one of my most important mentors and his passing is a great loss to medicine and humanity. I am, however, happy that he will see the love of his life, Audrey, as well as his great friend Karl Altenburger, MD, who preceded him in death.” — FMA Past President Douglas Murphy Jr., MD