In Memoriam

Recent Obituaries
In Memoriam Archive

Ulrich Berthold Jacobsohn ’50

A picture of Ulli and Dorothy Jacobsohn

Ulli Jacobsohn and Dorothy Williams Jacobsohn

Ulrich Berthold Jacobsohn ’50, May 6, 2015, in Augusta, Maine.

Born in Berlin, Ulli escaped Germany in 1933 with his mother, brother Peter [’50], and sisters Irene and Lillian. They met their father in Switzerland, where he had fled one hour after learning he was to be picked up by the Gestapo. The family found safety in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, until war erupted and forced them to move again—this time to Bangkok. His father, an ophthalmologist, was able to practice medicine in Thailand and founded the country’s first school for the blind. Ulli and Peter were tutored by their mother before the brothers found their way to Reed.

Though formal education in the U.S. was a challenge, Prof. L.E. Griffin [biology 1920–45] kept him from floundering, Ulli said. “Reed took a chance on helping a war refugee without citizenship . . . my first year was almost a disaster, but Reed helped me step by step until graduation.” He majored in biology and wrote a thesis, “Tracer Studies of Serine and Glycine Metabolism in the Silkworm,” with Prof. Frank P. Hungate [biology 1946–52]. He went on to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, where he earned an MD in psychiatry.

After medical school, Ulli enlisted in the navy reserve medical corps. He did a residency at St. Louis City Hospital and Barnes Hospital, where he met his future wife, Dorothy Jeanne Williams. They married in 1955 and went to Oakland, California, where Ulli completed his residency in psychiatry at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital. Following active duty, he remained with the navy reserve for 20 more years. During that time, says his family, he observed veterans returning from combat with a mental illness now identified as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and he was a pioneer in treating the condition.

Ulli joined the staff at Camarillo State Hospital, was chief of the psychiatric emergency service at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, and had a successful private psychiatric practice in Northridge, California.

In 1971, he was named a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and became assistant superintendent of the Augusta Mental Health Institute (Riverview Psychiatric Center) in Maine. He developed an interest in forensic psychiatry and was the first psychiatrist in Maine to be board certified in that specialty. He was director of the State Forensic Services and likewise the first psychiatrist to serve as president of the Maine Medical Association, which presented him with the president’s award for distinguished service in 1984.

Ulli was a clinical professor in psychiatry at the University of Maine at Orono and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. He received the lifetime achievement award from the Maine Psychiatric Association and was honored with the Joint Maine Senate and House of Representatives Recognition for Service to the State when he retired in 1998.

In addition to his public work, he served on school boards in California and Maine, as health officer to the Town of Farmingdale, as an advocate for families of patients living with mental illness, and as a dedicated supporter of local theatre and arts. In 2001, he was presented with the Spirit of America Award for volunteer work with the local community theatre, where his wife and daughters also performed.

Following Jeanne’s death in 2004, Ulli moved to Hallowell, Maine. He is remembered as a loving and devoted father and a compassionate and skilled physician. “The hundreds of colleagues and thousands of patients he affected revered him for treating them all as his own family, demanding the best, and healing the worst in all of them.” Survivors include two sons, Mark and David, two daughters, Julia and Stacey; seven grandsons; and his sister Lillian.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2015

comments powered by Disqus