Dr. Stefan August Loening, Professor of Urology, passed away at the age of 82 on October 8, 2021, at his home in Iowa City, Iowa. Stefan was born on May 26, 1939 in Lingen (Ems) in Germany, a Catholic enclave in Protestant northern Germany along the Dutch border. Stefan’s formative years were shaped by World War II, the scarcity of the post-war period, and his family’s strong Catholic convictions during those difficult times. Stefan’s father, Heinrich, was a doctor who was branded as politically untrustworthy as he refused to join the Nazi party. Stefan was born as the war commenced and his father was soon drafted into the military as a doctor and sent to the front in Poland, Ukraine and North Africa. After being captured by the British and handed over to US forces, his father spent the remainder of the war in multiple POW camps in the US and only returned home in 1946. His mother, Johanna (Hanny), was a devout Catholic who, during the war, raised Stefan, played the organ in her local church, and at the same time took part in the Dutch Underground’s resistance to the Nazi regime.
Stefan studied at the University of Freiburg and completed his initial medical training with periods spent in Basel, Innsbruck, and Vienna (where he developed his life-long passion for opera). In 1968 he received an invitation from the Ventnor Foundation to come to the US and work as an intern physician. What was meant to be a short sojourn before returning to northern Germany to practice medicine in his hometown became a much longer stay as he fell in love with the way of life in the US as well as with Vera Baucke, a fellow physician who had come to the US on the same program. Stefan and Vera married in 1970 and moved to Hanover, New Hampshire, where they did their residency training at the Dartmouth Medical Center. While in Hanover, they welcomed their first son, Matthias (“Micky”), in 1972. Stefan and Vera then moved to Ohio, where Stefan was a fellow in renal transplantation at the Cleveland Clinic and where their twins, Andreas (“Andy”) and Nikolaus (“Niko”), were born in 1975. Shortly afterwards, they moved to Iowa City, where Stefan worked in the Department of Urology at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and advanced to the rank of Professor. While at the University of Iowa, he carried out research directed toward improving treatment regimens for prostate cancer and also brought the first lithotripter to Iowa (an instrument that has greatly improved the treatment of kidney and bladder stones). Over his lifetime, Stefan had more than 400 research publications, edited seven books, and was the member of several editorial boards.
With the fall of the wall separating East and West Germany in 1989 and their subsequent reunification a year later, there was a need to help integrate the two, including bringing international expertise to Eastern Europe. In 1994, Stefan became Chair of the Department of Urology and Renal Transplantation at the prestigious Charite´ Hospital, a tertiary-level teaching hospital located in East Berlin next to the Berlin Wall. While there, he was involved in the consolidation of the departments of urology between East and West Berlin hospitals, and he began to focus on training a new generation of urologists, which included exchanges with the University of Iowa. His desire to support a new generation of physician-scientists in the area of urology research led him to found the “Stiftung Urologische Forschung” (The Urological Research Foundation, http://stiftung-urologie.de), to which he directed many of his efforts following his retirement from the Charite´ Hospital. For his service to the medical community, he was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz (the Federal Cross of Merit) by the German government in 2007.
In his final years, with the help of Micky, he compiled a family book of over 1,000 letters between his parents during their years of separation during World War II. Some of these letters were essential in a series of war crime trials held in Oldenburg, Germany in 1963 that convicted Nazi soldiers for their roles in atrocities against Jewish inhabitants of Kovel, Ukraine. These atrocities and the subsequent trials were the subject of a 2015 documentary, “Wir Dachten, die Sonne Geht Nicht Wieder Auf” (“We Thought the Sun Would Never Rise Again”). Stefan appeared in this documentary, where he spoke about his own father’s experiences in the war and his father’s difficulties later in life in dealing with the trauma of the events he witnessed.
Stefan suffered from Parkinson’s disease, as well as long-term heart disease. He came home from the hospital after his most recent treatment for heart problems just a day prior to his death. He is survived by Vera, his wife of 51 years, his son Matthias of Iowa City (with wife Julia and their children Evan, Hugh, and Annemarie), his son Andreas of San Francisco, California (with wife Emily Wang and their children Oliver and August), his son Nikolaus of Portland, Oregon (with husband Martin McLean), and his brother Thomas of Hamburg, Germany (with wife Petra and their children, Madeleine and Jonas). He was preceded in death by his parents and two siblings, Michael and Ursula.
A memorial service will be held at the Newman Catholic Student Center, 104 E Jefferson Street in Iowa City, Iowa, on October 13, with the visitation from 10 to 11 am, mass from 11 to 12 pm, and a reception to follow immediately after at the Loening residence. His remains will be interned in a family plot in Lingen (Ems) at a later date.