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Robert Ward Lehmberg, MD

Robert Ward Lehmberg, MD

Robert “Bob” Lehmberg, MD died with his wife, Jennifer O’Brien, at his side, her hand in his in the early hours of January 19, 2017.

Born on October 16, 1947, to Seth Ward Lehmberg, MD and Rose Mary Lehmberg (both deceased) in Taylor, Texas, Bob got his first summer job as a hospital orderly at age 18. He knew immediately he was meant to care for patients and continued the job while earning his bachelor’s from the University of Texas. During medical school, at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Bob was immediately drawn to surgical specialties. His work during a rotation on the plastic surgery service at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, earned him a residency.

He completed preceptor training under Al Blue, MD, in Seattle in 1978, and a fellowship focusing on reconstructive surgery of the hand at the University of Colorado in 1979. In that same year, Bob relocated to Little Rock where he practiced classic plastic and reconstructive surgery meaning trauma, burns, congenital anomalies, hand surgery, breast reconstruction following mastectomy and microsurgery.

He became a fellow of the American College of Surgeons in 1983, later achieved board certification in plastic and reconstructive surgery. In 1998, he was appointed chief of surgery at Baptist Medical Center in Little Rock, board chairman at Columbia Doctors Hospital in Little Rock, and Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery in the Department of Surgery at UAMS, where he taught for five years. From 1982 to 1989, Bob served on the hand surgery staff for the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System.

In 2007, in the prime of his surgical career when a neck injury prevented him from operating, he retrained in Hospice and Palliative Medicine. He did a preceptorship with Reed Thompson, MD and completed his Palliative Medicine fellowship training under the leadership of Sara Beth Harrington, MD at Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System and UAMS in 2008. He became board certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine and joined the UAMS faculty as an Assistant Professor.

While Bob loved being a plastic surgeon, in hospice and palliative medicine he “felt like he became the physician he was always meant to be.” At UAMS and the VA he helped train many physicians in the unique specialty and interdisciplinary team approach necessary to care for patients and families with struggling with serious illness and end-of-life care.

In addition to his wife, Jennifer O’Brien, he is survived by his sister, Rosemary Lehmberg of Austin, brother and sister-in-law, Philip and Bette Lehmberg of Houston, nieces Laura Lehmberg of Houston and Jennifer Lehmberg, MD, of St. Louis, MO

Special thanks to Joseph Beck, MD and Laura Hutchins, MD for their care during Bob’s illness and to Mary Howell, MD and Stephen Hathcock, MD who were his hospice physicians.

A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, January 28 at 11am, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Little Rock.

In lieu of flowers or food, please make a contribution to Robert Lehmberg, MD Palliative Care Educational Fund at the WPRCI Foundation, UAMS Slot #508, 4301 W. Markham Little Rock, AR 72205.

Condolence Book

"Dr. Lehmberg was admired and respected by everyone, including myself.
God Bless His Family. Gary Cook"

Gary Cook | North Little Rock, AR


"The medical field has lost a great doctor. He will be missed by many. "
Pam Sloper | Benton, AR

"I was so sorry to hear about Dr. Lehmberg's passing. I only worked with him for 3 years but he had the most infectious smile and it was a joy to work with him. I pray that God will give you peace and comfort during this time. The medicine field has lost a true professional but nothing compared to your loss."
Shirley Nixon | Bryant, AR

"He treated my mother for a terrible hand injury and was so wonderful to her. So obvious that he cared for his patients"
Shelley Vickers | Little Rock, AR

"Traveling mercies to one of the finest physicians I've ever known. His kindness, compassion, humor, and humbleness is what I aspire to daily in my own work in Hospice care. He was a friend and a colleague and I will miss him terribly.

Deep peace to his family...

Dr. L, I hope they have gummy fish wherever you are and that you can eat as many as you want.


Jamie Boshears | Maumelle, AR

"What an amazing doctor. He held my hand as my husband as my husband was pushed from the raft by pancreatic cancer. My husband and I both felt safe because of his support. I'm truly saddened."
Kelly McCabe | Greenbrier

"A sad loss for all-He was a wonderful physician who
Cared and comforted so many. Thankful for all who
Comforted him and Blessings for his family"

Mary L Corbitt MD | Little Rock, AR

"Worked with Dr. Lehmberg for years, starting in the "80's. He was one of the most demanding, sarcastic, funny men I have ever worked with. He didn't tolerate stupidity, especially in the OR.

I really enjoyed working with him, both in the ER and the OR, and missed him when he stopped practicing plastic surgery.

I have missed him, and shall continue to miss him. He was a wonderful man and doctor."

Barbara Brophy | Little Rock, AR

"The first patient I ever compassionately withdrew care from, Dr.Lehemberg was there by my side. It was a really emotional time. After we pronounced the patient's death, we left the room together. He grabbed me by the shoulders, looked me straight in the eyes and said, "You were wonderful in there. What a gift you have." And he kissed me on the forehead. I will never forget that moment, when I realized how beautiful the end of life can be. How much a caregiver can care. Dr. Lehemberg changed my life and my and my practice that day and I am forever grateful for his grace."
Kerin Gray | Little Rock, AR

"Dr. Lehmberg was the finest kind of person and an enormous influence on my critical care nursing practice. He did the most important work there was in a hospital, and did it with calm, kindness, and grace. His easy smile and openness was very unique.
Love to his family. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
Laura Earley"

Laura Jennings Earley | , AR

"I sat with Dr. Lehmberg in more than a few family meetings and was always struck by his warmth, patience, and empathy. It meant a lot to the grieving families. It also meant a lot to a struggling critical care fellow. I know that I'm a better doctor for his are a whole lot of other former uams trainees. "
Steven Deas | San Antonio, TX

"Though he was a very private man, Bob's openness about his own struggles with depression started the conversation for so many health care providers about the special risks for depression and suicide in our profession. I will miss you, my friend. "
Susan Santa Cruz, MD | North Little Rock , AR

"Bob was a brilliant surgeon and physician but above all he was a wonderful, loving human being to his friends and patients alike. We are grateful to have known him, sending loving thoughts."
Kandy and Bud Hyde | Ferndale, AR

"Dr. Lehmberg was my favorite doctor to work with. I met him as a social work intern when he first began his career change to palliative care. I am so grateful to have known and work with him. Your family is in my prayers. "
Katie Kiehn | Little Rock, AR

"I am saddened by the loss of Bob - I have known him for a very long time from the OR to sailing on Lake Maumelle. His smile was contagious and his hugs were forever remembered! Jennifer, to see you two together was like heaven. The smiles that you both had were precious. I am glad that you and Bob met and had time together. I am so glad that you were there holding his hand for his last goodbye. He had a lot of friends in this city that will miss him. Sending my love and prayers."
Shawn Blazer McNerlin | Little Rock, AR

"Worked with Dr. Lehmberg and witnessed his magic with his patients at the VA Hospital. He was a master at what he did, and I learned more about life and death from him, and for that I'm grateful. I will truly miss him. "
Janet Earls RN | Little Rock, AR

"I'm saddened to hear of Dr. Lehmberg's passing. He was a wonderful teacher and a compassionate physician. I always loved it when he was on service. My prayers are with his family. "
Kristen Brandon MD | Arkadelphia, AR

"I am so sad to have lost my trusted colleague and dear friend. Bob really had a gift with patients in both plastic surgery and palliative care. I will miss you so much, my friend. Thank you for always being there for me. Jennifer, I am thinking of you and wishing you comfort in your grief. So glad you and Bob found each other."
Kristin Agar | Little Rock, AR

"Bob Lehmberg was a life line for our family when my mother, Bebe Deal, reached her end of life. He walked us through that gently and with grace. His compassion was remarkable and, truly, I don't know what we would have done without his guidance. Godspeed, Dr. Lehmberg. You were one of a kind!"
Elizabeth Miller | Little Rock, AR

"A man of great wisdom and boundless compassion for his fellow man. He is a great loss for those of us he leaves behind. Every time I advocate for my hurting patients I think about the first time I met this man. "
Ninna Stover | Cabot, AR

"I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Lehmberg at UAMS and was touched by his wonderful personality and caring attitude. He was always so kind to his patients,families, and the nursing staff. He was jovial, wears a smile even through the challenging moments and passionate about his work. However,he would always find time to sit and talk to me amidst his busy schedule and share chocolate or two. He will be missed...."
Rowena M. Garcia | , AR

"He was a fine physician but an even finer man. With a great sense of humor that took away your fear when faced with surgery. I can only imagine what a wonderful palliative care doctor he was for patients. He will be missed "
Marilyn Holland | Fayetteville, AR

"I worked alongside Dr. Lehmberg with VA Oncology & Palliative Care service. He was such a caring and compassionate man and fierce patient advocate. He is so highly regarded by the nurses who have worked along side him for these years. He will be sorely missed. Well done, good and faithful servant."
Amelia Dawson, RN | Little Rock, AR

""I worked alongside Dr. Lehmberg at the VA on many occasions. He was a strong advocate for Veterans and a very compassionate physician. He will be sorely missed. "
Kimberly Garner, MD | Little Rock, AR

"He taught the hospifal chaplain interns and residents so much by his example of being truly present with patients and their loved ones. It was a priviledge to know him."
Steven Golnik | Little Rock, AR

"He was such a kind and caring man. He took care of my Daughter Kerrie Lynn Willbanks while she was hospitalized with cancer. We were truly blessed to have him for her Doctor.Judy Ellis, N.L.R., Ar.


Judy ellis | N.L.R., AR

"I am very proud to say I worked for Dr. Lehmberg for 2 years in the early 90s. He was an amazing physician with a big heart. He will be greatly missed.

Jana O'Dell | Cabot, AR

"I met Dr.Lehmberg after breast cancer when he did reconstructive surgery on me. He was so kind and comforting. Ten years later when a special person in my life was in hospice at the VA, I was again comforted to know Dr. Lehmberg would be caring for him. He was a gifted Doctor.

Dixie Richards | BENTON

"Bob was a neighbor, friend, classmate from 1st Grade thru our Bachelor's degrees at UT-Austin. Although a very smart guy, he was named Most Handsome in the Taylor High School Class of 1965. His Dad was the family doctor to many in our class. He was a quiet guy with a dry sense of humor. He did make it to some of our Homecomings to eat BBQ in his jeans and boots, relax and have some laughs with old friends in his home town. We all will miss him as a classmate and friend while the rest of the world has lost a special doctor. God Bless Bob and his family."
Burney Cain | Garland, TX

"Prayers and blessings to all of your family. My sincere condolences with love."
Mary Garcia de la Rosa | Round Rock, TX

"Dr. Lehmberg was often called to SVI ER. when I worded there as an RN on 3-11. I can still see the twinkle in his eyes and infectious smile as he came to the nurses station carrying his satchel over his shoulder.All the nurses loved working with him, he was so easy to get along with and had a great sense of humor. I ran into him while at UAMS after he left private practice, it was like seeing a friend, he stood and talked to my husband and I like long lost friends. Our condolences to his family."
Paula L Preston | Conway, AR

"I worked with Dr Lehmberg at the V.A. Hospital and he is everything that people say he is and more. My fondest memory of him is when I saw him at a Robert Earl Keen concert and we realized that we had that common interest. There's no doubt in my mind that he is listening to "The Road Goes on Forever" and "I'm Comin Home" as we all remember his life!"
Celina Glasier | Little Rock, AR

"As a member of the class of 65, I remember the smile that was always there and the energy that he always had. Bob was a very warm and caring person and will be missed by so many. My prayers are for all the family at this time may God bless and be with you

Gloria Lee | Laurel Hill

"Rest in love kind man, I will miss you. I feel privileged to have known you if only for a short time. "To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die". Eddie Campbell "
Cassandra Caffey | Little Rock, AR

"His big friendly smile, gentle demeanor, and excellence brought the best to Veterans at the end of their life. It was a pleasure to work with him. He will be greatly missed by many. "
Heather Heard | Vacaville , CA

"Little Rock lost a wonderful doctor. We lost such a dear friend. Bob and I grew up together in Taylor. He was such a dear, compassionate friend. His quiet wisdom was solice in this loud world. We will miss him so. RIP dear friend. Class of '65."
Suzee Oliphint | Dallas, TX

"My condolences to my friend Jennifer. Your loss is felt here in my heart. So sorry for your loss."
Glenn Tisdall | Chicago, IL

"My condolences to the family. Dr. Lehmberg was a great Dr. and a very kind man. He is part of the reason I have a no nonsense approach with my pain patients. I saw the results that he received with his approach. I thank him so much for allowing me to follow him in clinic. He will be greatly missed."
Stella L Bowers | Little Rock, AR

"Prayers and hugs first to the family of Bob. What a kind, soft spoken, and caring man. For those that went to Taylor High School and knew him, I would say we were really fortunate because even then he had that gentle spirit. One thing I will always remember about Bob is his sweet smile, that showed what kind of person he was. God looked down and said ...your work on earth is done. I would say for sure God got a good one!"
Pat (Guthrie) Helbert | Taylor , TX

"No words suffice in moments such as these. Our hearts grieve at Bob's passing and our spirits soar to know he is at peace. We seek God's comfort for his family. The indelible memories of our beloved member of The Class of '65 rest easy on our mind. "
John L. Youngblood | Taylor, TX

"Bob and I grew up, ran track, and graduated H.S. together. I take pride in knowing him and calling him friend. To know how many lives you touched and enriched is a legacy that is lasting. RIP dear friend. Class of '65. Van Burruss "
Van A.Burruss | Winterville, NC

"I knew Bob from age 5 or 6, when his dad and mine hunted at the same deer lease. Although I regret having not seen him in several years, it is obvious that his was a life well lived. Thoughts and prayers to family and loved ones. "
Chuck Hamilton | Austin, TX

"It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to a true friend and hero to so many. We knew from early childhood in Taylor that Bob was destined for greatness. Bob possessed leadership skills even back then and went on to excel in life beyond anyone I have ever known. He had a gentle and sweet spirit and I will always treasure that sweet kiss to my temple. He will be missed."
Debbie Carlow | Barksdale, TX

"I would never be able to repay all the kindness this man brought to my patients and me, always willing to help, always with a gentle smile. You will be missed, but always remembered. "
Norm | Sherwood , AR

"It was a privilege to have been a small part of Bob's life. He was a dedicated and caring physician. He truly enjoyed helping his fellow man. He had a great talent and he used his talent for the betterment of mankind.

The world could use more Bob Lemberg's"

Alfred isaiahj Blue, M.D. J.C. | Seattle, Washington

"I would echo Dr. Alfred Blue "The world could use more Bob Lehmbergs." He was a wonderful colleague. My regards to his family."
Ramona Bates, MD | Little Rock, AR

"So very sorry for your loss. Dr. Lemberg was a quite a guy. I had opportunity to work with him in his Plastic surgeon role and then later in his new change to Palliative care. We talked a few times changes we both had made. Things missed of one ( not many ) but pleasure he took in his current role. I did see a different joy in the latter role. He was a king man- and had warm engaging personality. He was kind to those he cared for and worked with.
I will miss him."

Lori Phares | Little Rock, AR

"Bob always had the cutest smile for everyone. He was well liked by the entire class of 1965.All prayers go out to Jennifer and the entire family. He will be missed by everyone. God Bless."
Shirley Lane | Hutto, TX

"So sorry for the loss of your soulmate, Jennifer. You were a lovely part of his life. Bob was a fine physician, respected by colleagues everywhere. And he gave good hugs!"
JoAnne and John Wilson | Little Rock, AR

"My condolences to Dr. Lehmberg's family. I had the privilege to have practice as a colleague with him in Little Rock in the 80s. He arrived in private practice along with Dr. Bob Vogel and the two of them revolutionized plastic surgery in Little Rock. They truly practiced the gamut of plastic surgery taking care of trauma, indigents and all comers who were in need of their expertise. Although I moved to Northwest Arkansas in 1986 I will always remember Bob is the kindest and most humble plastic surgeon I've ever met."
John B. Weiss M.D. | Fayetteville, AR

"Thank you for your example. Words cannot express how much I appreciated you. We will miss you"
Jaclynn Lehman Elias | Little Rock, AR

"Dr. Lehmberg was an outstandingly good physician and gentleman, and he will be missed."
Dennis Lucy M.D. | Little Rock, AR

"I'm saddened to see this. I worked with Dr. Lehmberg for years at Baptist Health, and enjoyed him as a neighbor at various times throughout the years . What a brilliant, funny guy. Godspeed, my friend "
Elizabeth Gunn | Green Mountain, NC

"Bob was the most welcoming brother-in-law that a woman could ever ask for and he immediately made me feel at home in the Lehmberg family the very first time I met him 36 years ago. Phil and I so adored Bob that had we had a son, his first name would have been Robert (I even have a needlepoint pillow stitched in that name-perhaps a grandchild will carry his name). Even just recently Bob wrote me such a lovely, heart-felt and personal letter in saying his goodbyes. We always laughed and enjoyed our times together most recently at Thanksgiving. Bob never hesitated to kiss, hug and tell me, Phil, Laura and Jenn, that he loved each of us. I will miss him here on earth greatly but I have full confidence that I will see him again in heaven. Hopefully, he will meet me at the gates to lobby for my entrance. There is no doubt because he accepted Christ and because he was such a good man, he has a special room in the Lord's house. Bob, rest easy until we meet again. I will love you always for the blessings you brought to my life. "
Bette Branch Lehmberg | Houston, TX

"In 2013 I was admitted as a cancer patient to UAMS via ambulance from Baptist. It was a flurry of activity with a room full of doctors who began to introduce themselves as my medical team. When it came to Dr. Lehmberg, I couldn't hear his name to pronounce it properly, so he just smiled and said, "Just remember me as your friend." And he was. He was attentive, compassionate, and always there for me.

After recovery, I had become disabled and was suffering depression. He continued working with me to help rebuild my life after cancer. "Embrace some former hobbies and interests. Now that you have some time, you'll be able to enjoy them again." So, I began writing music again, something I hadn't done in 30 years! My first piece I wrote in his honor and was able to play it for him downstairs at UAMS during my last appointment with him. I'm so glad he got to hear it, and that it touched him so. I would have been disappointed to know that he passed away having never heard the piece he inspired. Since then, I've become the volunteer music director for my church and my life is full and happy. He was so much more than a great doctor, he was my friend.

I went into for my follow up appointment last fall and he was gone. No one told me why, so I googled it today to find that he had passed away in January. What a loss for the medical patients at UAMS. Thank you, Dr. Lehmberg for everything you did to help me survive cancer, AND without struggling in pain and agony through the whole experience.

You will be missed and thought of with a smile of appreciation and twinge of heartache at your loss. My love and condolences to your wife and family.

Marty Watson
Soft Tissue Sarcoma Survivor 2013 and
Friend of Dr. Lehmberg.

Marty Watson | Jacksonville , AR

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