Holstein named 2019 WVSOM Alumni of the Year

For four decades, Robert B. Holstein, D.O., has supported the school that provided his medical education and helped launch his career in the osteopathic profession.

The Class of 1979 West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) graduate has exemplified continuous dedication to the WVSOM Alumni Association and school and as a result was named the 2019 Distinguished Alumni of the Year during the association’s annual Mid-Winter Osteopathic Seminar in Charleston, W.Va.

Holstein practices in Florida, but spends a lot of time at WVSOM where he is living the mission by serving others. Holstein has given his time by serving on various boards, donated to major fundraising campaigns, and encouraged other alumni to pay it forward to help lessen the financial burden current students must carry to become physicians.

“While I humbly appreciate receiving the Distinguished Alumni of the Year award for 2019 as recognition for service to WVSOM, my greatest satisfaction has come from the service itself,” Holstein said after the announcement. “When you love what you do and you love those you do it for, therein lies the joy and satisfaction of serving.”

Classmate Art Rubin, D.O., who presented the award to a humbled and emotional Holstein, commented humorously on the benefits of receiving the award. “As a past winner of this award, I can tell you there are some hidden benefits … you receive a dedicated parking spot on the campus, even though I still haven’t found it yet. You also receive a photographic portrait that hangs in the lobby of the alumni center. Visitors have said, ‘Who are all of these old people?’ They never say ‘distinguished people.’”

Rubin went on to say that one current Alumni Association board member stated that Holstein could easily be named “alumni of the decade” for all he has done for WVSOM.

After Holstein’s name was called and he accepted an engraved Blenko glass vase, he quipped, “I’d like to thank the academy, the producers and my mom and dad, without whom I wouldn’t be here.”

He reflected on his trepidation after entering medical school even with the support of his wife, Jean. “As newlyweds to a new school, we weren’t sure we were going to make it. I wasn’t sure if I graduated if I would kill people or help people.”

On a more serious note, Holstein said he believes that God continues to use WVSOM and its diverse alumni to fulfill his will in bringing love and healing to others. Though he was honored to be recognized with such a prestigious award, he praised other graduates as the real heroes of WVSOM.  

“I am fully aware that there are countless unsung heroes of WVSOM whose service exceeds anything that I have done. The alumni of WVSOM are truly my heroes, and this award will always remind me of their sacrifice and exemplary service as osteopathic physicians,” he said.

Holstein was elected to the Alumni Association board as a member at large in 2006, was elected president in 2010 and was re-elected in 2012 serving until 2016. Under his leadership, the association committed to the capital campaign for the Alumni Tower at $250,000.

In 2016, he was appointed to the WVSOM Board of Governors, where he still serves.

After graduation, Holstein completed an internship at Doctor’s Hospital in Georgia. He is board-certified in family medicine and practices at MyHealthOnSite at the Bob Pryor Charlotte County Employee Health Center in Port Charlotte, Fla. His interests include medical mission trips, hunting, camping, riding motorcycles and WVSOM. He and his wife have been married for 44 years and have two children, Stacy Pardal and Scott Holstein.

The WVSOM Alumni Association established the Distinguished Alumni of the Year award to annually recognize graduates who have demonstrated outstanding personal and professional achievements.