Dr Carl Kline was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. During the Great Depression, he worked his way through Northwestern Medical School in Chicago. Subsequently, he served as a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy Medical Corp for 5 years. His first-hand exposure to the psychological trauma war inflicted on soldiers (which he came to see as often being more crippling than the physical injuries) led him to become fascinated with psychiatry. He undertook his postgraduate training in psychiatry and neurology at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, DC, and at Duke University Medical School in Durham, North Carolina.
During the 1960s, Dr Kline worked as psychiatrist in his private practice in Wisconsin. Here he became very involved with organizations that embraced the social and human rights of individuals. His opposition to the Vietnam War was a driving factor in moving his family (four of whom were young boys) to Canada in 1967. In Vancouver, Dr Kline became Canada’s first Children’s Aid Society psychiatrist, which he could do without Canadian licensure. Eventually, he wrote and passed his Canadian exams, becoming a member of the Canadian Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, certified in psychiatry. He was a clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UBC, and upon retirement he was appointed clinical professor emeritus.
While in Vancouver, Dr Kline worked in private practice, specializing in child and adolescent issues. His experience working with children convinced him that many of the troubled young people he was seeing were actually suffering from primary learning disabilities. He became an expert in dyslexia and developed a remedial approach for dyslexics. He and his wife, Carolyn, began a training program to teach specialized therapists how to work with dyslexic children. Over the years, thousands of such children were given new hope and achieved success as a result of this help. Dr Kline was instrumental in the establishment of three specialized academic schools in the Lower Mainland that help children with learning disabilities: Kenneth Gordon School, James Cameron School, and the Fraser Academy.
In the early 1970s, Dr Kline was a guiding force in the formation of the Orton Dyslexia Society, British Columbia Branch, now affiliated with the International Dyslexia Association. Dr Kline was a member of the Council of Advisors of the International Dyslexia Association and he was also the recipient of their highest honor, the Samuel T. Orton Award.
Dr Kline’s publications on child psychiatry, adolescent psychiatry, and dyslexia appeared in more than 60 professional journals.
Aside from his professional successes, Dr Kline was an enthusiastic outdoorsman. He loved camping, canoeing, hiking, and especially fly fishing. For him, a day on a fishing stream was an ageless day.
In his later years, his eyesight failed, but his inner vision seemed to grow. When he could no longer use the computer or e-mail, he resorted to using his trusted pen. In a humorous note, he wrote, “It is easier for me to say nothing with my Mont Blanc pen, than with an e-mail; that’s called growing old gracefully.”
He will be remembered as a remarkable, kind, gentle man who spent his life helping others and supporting just causes. Dr Kline’s wife, five children, ten grandchildren, and one great grandchild celebrate his ebullience for life, and are grateful for all that he taught and gave. He passed away peacefully, and with never a complaint.
—Jonathan L. Kline, MD
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