Robert Irwin Kohut, MD

November 29, 1932 - February 28, 2019
Robert Irwin Kohut, MD

Robert I. Kohut, MD, 86, of Wilmington, North Carolina passed away on February 28, 2019 in his home after a long illness.

Dr. Kohut graduated with honors from Wittenberg University in 1956, the School of Medicine at the University of Chicago in 1960, and completed his residency in Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose and Throat) in the Department of Otolaryngology in 1965. He started his career in head and neck surgery and academic medicine at the University of Florida, Associate Professor and Acting Chair for the Department of Otolaryngology, 1971-72. In 1972, he became Professor and Chief of Otolaryngology at the School of Medicine, University of California Irvine. In 1979, he became Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology at the Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, retiring in 1999.

Dr. Kohut’s professional honors and awards were prolific. Among many professional organizations and associations, Dr. Kohut served on the America Board of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the organization that certifies specialists in all the areas of Otolaryngology.

A primary focus of his medical research was in the field of temporal bone histopathology. He became noted for his colony of genetically deaf cats which helped advance the research and study of vertigo (dizziness) for which he became a renowned expert. In the early 1980s, he was a consultant to NASA. His research was well published, and he lectured in his field nationally and internationally. His children remember visits with their dad to medical laboratories on weekends and his assistance at home with science projects.

Dr. Kohut was an avid fisherman both in the United States and abroad, including Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania, Europe, Costa Rica, Mexico, Canada. He was particularly fond of fly fishing, made his own bamboo fly rods and tied his own flies. He enjoyed hunting as well, particularly duck and quail. Before moving to Wilmington, he spent most of his time at his Certified Tree Farm in Rowan County, North Carolina (“Riverwood Farms”). He also enjoyed building decks, home repair, and yard work with his family.

Dr. Kohut was born on November 29, 1932 to Emil and Ruth I. Kohut in Chicago, Illinois. His late wife, Joanne Kay Kohut, died on October 8, 1982. He is survived by all four of his children, James R. Kohut (and daughter-in-law, Marylou M. Kohut), Paula A. Kohut, Robert J. Kohut and John E. Kohut, four grandchildren, Rebecca A. Westheimer, Clifford M. Kohut (and wife, Hannah Kohut), Emily A. Kohut and Christopher R. Kohut, and one great-granddaughter, Emma J. Kohut. His grandson, Christopher J. Kohut preceded him in death on November 30, 2011. Although Dr. Kohut and Frances Kohut divorced, Frances Kohut remains a close friend of the family.

The family wishes to express their gratitude to all of “Dr. Bob’s” caregivers over the last five years, including Casey O’Heffernan, Emily Tadlock, Lorretta Jordan, Trynne Pikey, Kristi Fuller, Trina Bond, Sarah Graham and Lakriessia Russ, as well as Griswold Home Care and Liberty Homecare and Hospice Services. Dr. Mary K. Rudyk and the members of her practice Senior Health Associates were invaluable to Dr. Kohut and his family.

A celebration of his life will be held at on Saturday March 9th at 1:30 at St. Jude’s Metropolitan Community Church, 19 N 26th St, Wilmington, NC. His cremains will be interned at the gravesite of his late wife, Joanne Kay Kohut, at Evergreen Cemetery in Winston-Salem, North Carolina at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Ducks Unlimited Memorial Contribution, One Waterfowl Way, Memphis, TN 38120; www.duck.org.

Please share memories and condolences with the family by clicking on the “Post a Condolence” tab below.

Wilmington Funeral & Cremation, 1535 S.41st Street Wilmington, NC 28403. 910.791.9099.

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  • March 03, 2019
    Barbara Goodman says:
    Paula, I am so sorry for your loss! Please call if there is ANYTHING you need!

  • March 04, 2019
    Cindy Beamer says:
    Dr. Robert Kohut was a very intelligent, caring and lovely person who meant alot to me and to his children and grandchildren. I especially remember is invaluable medical help and reassurances when Cliff and Liz were just little kids..always available no matter the time with kindness, information & directions to help us through the illness or condition we were dealing with at the time. I have fond memories of weekends and holidays spent with him at his tree farm and home in Winston-Salem. The children were very blessed to have him in their lives and he will be missed by all of us.

  • March 05, 2019
    Trynne Kurtz (Pikey) says:
    Dr. Bob is truly an unforgettable man! I am beyond grateful that I was able to get to know him. He will be missed! Sending love and hugs to the Kohut Family!

  • March 06, 2019
    Russell & Susan Armistead says:
    Susan and I are so sorry to read about Dr Kohut’s death. Bob was a dear friend of mine at the Wake Forest School of Medicine (Bowman Gray) for the entire time he was there. I remember his many interests, including vertigo, well. He was a great gentleman and will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

  • March 06, 2019
    Harriet J. Hinson says:
    Dr. Kohut meant so much to me as his patient. His dedication, knowledge and professionalism was exceptional. He correctly diagnosed the cause of my extreme vertigo and loss of hearing and successfully performed surgery. My sincerest condolences to the Kohut family. Thank you for sharing him with us.