The Passing of a Giant

Charles Bluestone headshot

By David Chi, MD

It is with great sadness that we announce the passage of Dr. Charles Bluestone (April 4, 1932- June 15, 2024), one of the giants in the field of otolaryngology.

Dr. Bluestone was a native of Pittsburgh and received both his Bachelor of Science (magna cum laude) and Medical (Alpha Omega Alpha) degrees at the University of Pittsburgh. He received his training in Otolaryngology at the University of Illinois Research and Educational Hospital and the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary in Chicago. After two years in the United States Air Force, he returned to Pittsburgh in 1964, where he was in private practice for eight years. During his years as a private practitioner, he was Clinical Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Chief of the Otolaryngology Service at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

In 1972, Dr. Bluestone left private practice and moved to Boston where he became the first full-time Director of the Otolaryngology Department at Boston City Hospital and Professor of Otolaryngology at Tufts University School of Medicine. While in Boston, he became the Acting Program Director of the joint Tufts and Boston University Otolaryngology residency program and was appointed as a faculty member at Boston and Harvard Universities.

In 1975, Dr. Bluestone returned to his hometown, Pittsburgh, to become the first full-time Director of the Department of Pediatric Otolaryngology at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Professor of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In 1996, Dr. Bluestone became the first Eberly Professor of Pediatric Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.   

Also in 1975, he initiated the fellowship in Pediatric Otolaryngology at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. During his leadership from 1975 to 2004, over 50 fellows in Pediatric Otolaryngology were trained in his Department, most of whom are now in academic medicine. The program was the first subspecialty in Otolaryngology to receive accreditation.

Dr. Bluestone was one of the pioneers in Pediatric Otolaryngology. He was the founding chairman of the Section on Pediatric Otolaryngology and Bronchoesophagology of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1978 and was a past president (1990-1991) of the American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology (ASPO). The Annual Charles D. Bluestone Lectureship in Pediatric Otolaryngology was initiated at the 1998 annual meeting of ASPO.

Dr. Bluestone was the author or co-author of more than 500 publications related to pediatric otolaryngology. In 1996, one of these publications (Bluestone et al., Audiometry and tympanometry in relation to middle ear effusions in children. Laryngoscope 1973; 83:594-604) was selected as one of the 12 “classic” articles of the past 100 years for the Centennial Celebration of the Laryngoscope and republished in the Laryngoscope in 1996. He co-edited and contributed to the leading textbook of pediatric otolaryngology, Pediatric Otolaryngology, the co-author of Otitis Media in Infants and Children (WB Saunders, 3rd edition, 2001), and the co-editor and contributor to the Surgical Atlas Pediatric of Otolaryngology (B.C. Decker, 2002), Evidence-Based Otitis Media, 2nd ed. (BC Decker, 2003) and Conquering Otitis Media (BC Decker, 1999). He gave more than 900 presentations at local, national, and international meetings, courses, seminars, and symposia. 

Dr. Bluestone was married to his wife Patricia for 70 years. They were blessed with two sons, Mark and James, Jim’s wife Maria, and their two daughters, Dane and Mari-Alyse. In Dr. Bluestone’s leisure time, he liked to swim laps in his backyard pool, ride his bicycle, play tennis with his wife, tend to his collection of large tropical fish, read fiction and nonfiction, and listen to classical music.