Pedro Ruiz, MD
Pedro Ruiz, MD, a man who rose from humble beginnings in rural Cuba to become a significant contributor to the field of Psychiatry, passed away on March 14 in League City, Texas at the age of 86. “Pillo” as he was affectionately dubbed for his sharp mind by those closest to him, was born on his maternal grandparent’s farm, “El Manacal”, in Quemado de Guines in the province of Las Villas, Cuba, to Pedro Ruiz Fonseca and Rosa Maria Quintero Hortas. At a young age, together with his sister Rosita “Tata”, his family moved to the neighboring town of Santo Domingo where he lived adjacent to the Singer Sewing Machine store where his father and then later his mother worked. After the sudden death of his father at the age of 10, Pedro was embraced by a large extended family network of aunts and uncles, and in particular, a beloved aunt Evira Costales “Tita” and neighbor Sarquis Gomez who became a second mother and father to him during his formative years. Pedro went on to obtain his “Bachillerato” in accounting at the Instituto de Seguna Ensenañza de Santa Clara before moving forward with his desire to study medicine. Upon passing his medical school entrance exam, he initiated his studies at the University of Havana School of Medicine in 1954. However, his pursuit of a medical degree was interrupted when the Batista Dictatorship closed the university in 1956, leading to a two-year period of exile in Spain. After his return to Cuba, Pedro met his future wife, Angela Danta, in 1960 and courted her for a year while they were both studying at the University of Havana. Yet, events related to the Cuban revolution forced him to abruptly leave Cuba once more in January 1961 where he returned to Spain, and then later to France to continue his medical studies at the University of Paris. During this time, Pedro continued his courtship with Angela through weekly letters until she was able to join him in Paris where they were married. Pedro and Angela’s first home together was his small room in the Casa de Cuba dormitory where he lived in close community with a tight-knit group of life-long friends, many who were also Cuban exiles. During this time, Pedro and Angela welcomed their son, Pedro Pablo. With steely determination, ten years after first starting his medical studies, Pedro finally achieved his medical degree at the University of Paris in 1964, and upon graduation, ventured back across the Atlantic Ocean to begin his residency in general psychiatry at the University of Miami. As a young psychiatrist, Pedro began his academic career in 1968 at Albert Einstein College of Medicine where he became the Director of the Lincoln Hospital Community Mental Health Center in South Bronx, New York. It was during this time that Pedro and Angela welcomed their daughter, Angela Maria. Pedro’s passionate work with minority and underprivileged patients in the South Bronx was well noted, leading to additional positions as Director of the Bronx State Psychiatric Center, tenured Professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Vice Chair of the Albert Einstein Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. In 1981, Pedro relocated his family from New York to Houston after accepting a position as tenured professor for Baylor College of Medicine and Vice-Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. His life’s mission to address disparities in access to mental health care for underserved communities continued through his concurrent appointment as the Chief of Psychiatry at Ben Taub General Hospital. Pedro would later transition to the UT Houston McGovern Medical School Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences also as a Tenured Professor of Psychiatry. It was during his tenure at UT that he achieved his greatest professional recognitions, having been elected as President of the American College of Psychiatrists (2000-2001), the American Association of Social Psychiatry (2000-2002), the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (2002-2003), the American Psychiatric Association (2006-2007), the World Psychiatric Association (2008-2011) and the World Association on Dual Disorders (2015-2018, 2018-2021). Pedro was also a world-renowned speaker, travelling throughout many countries to speak on a wide breadth of topics within psychiatry, particularly on the themes of dual disorders, crosscultural psychiatry, and mental health parity. However, his likely most personally significant speaking engagement was his triumphant return to Cuba almost 50 years later as one of the key presenters at the 2009 World Psychiatric Association conference in Havana. In 2011, Pedro Ruiz moved to Miami where he would serve in his final professional position as Professor of Psychiatry and Executive Vice-Chairman and Director of Clinical Programs at the University of Miami School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, thus completing an illustrious career at Jackson Memorial Hospital where he had begun his practice of psychiatry 50 years earlier. Over the span of his career, Pedro served on more than 40 editorial boards, sat on countless National and International Committees and authored more than 1000 publications, most notably “Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook” and the Ninth and Tenth editions of “Kaplan & Sadock’s Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry”. His accomplishments, awards and recognition are too many to list. In an excerpt from the journal, “The Psychiatrist”, first published in 2011, Pedro shared his reflections on his reasons for entering medicine, “I decided to become a physician at age 10 when my father died from an unknown cause. I almost died at age 12 from peritonitis resulting from a ruptured appendix, which kept me in bed for about 6 months. A few years later, when I was about 15 years old, I read some of Sigmund Freud and Wilhelm Stekel’s writings. I decided to become a psychiatrist at this time.” Pedro also shared how he would like to be remembered, “As a physician/psychiatrist who cared not only for those with illnesses, including mental illness, but also cared for the most disadvantaged and poorest individuals across the world.” In his lifetime, Pedro embraced the importance of hard work and education, a value he instilled in his children and grandchildren. Pedro Ruiz is predeceased by his father Pedro Ruiz Fonseca, his mother Rosa Maria Quintero Hortas, his father-in-law Pablo Danta Cabrera, his mother-in-law Cardidad Cardenas Torres and his granddaughter Cecilia Therese Ruiz. He is survived by his beloved wife Angela Ruiz Danta, his son Pedro Pablo Ruiz (Julie Santos Ruiz ) of Galveston, Texas, his daughter Angela Maria Ruiz-Holguin (Omar Holguin Jr) of Houston, Texas, his grandchildren Francisco Ruiz, Pedro Ruiz Jr, Omar Holguin III, and Pablo Holguin, and a sister Rosa Maria Ruiz Quintero (Adrian Perez Franco) of Madrid, Spain.
A celebration of Pedro’s life will be held at Crowder funeral Home, 1645 East Main Street in League City, Texas on Saturday, March 18 with visitation at 1 pm, followed by a service at 2 pm. A second celebration will be held in Miami on Saturday March 25 with burial following at Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery in Doral, Florida. In lieu of flowers, donations in Pedro Ruiz’s name may be made to the National Alliance on Mental Illness or the Alzheimer’s Association.
Services in Miami will be held on March 25, 2023, at Memorial Plan Westchester funeral home located at 9800 SW 24th St., Miami, Fl 33165. Visitation will take place at 11am followed by a service at 12:00pm, burial will follow at Our lady of Mercy Catholic Cemetery in Doral, Fl
I am so sorry to learn that my cousin’s husband has passed. Love and prayers to the whole family
Wow what a man with a career others should ascribe to. His legacy extends through his professional achievements but more importantly his family which continues his legacy of excellence and service
I just heard the passing of Pedro I want to send my deepest sympathy to his family. I remember Pedro from the Bronx and learn from him how to understand the different ethnicities and how to empathize with them it Had been years I am also a psychiatrist who want to thanks him for his teaching . Nicolás Dávila-Katz
Que gran honor ser parte de la familiar de Pedro (Dr. Ruiz), mi primo. Angela, cuanto lo siento tu dolor. May God bless you and the entire family. May Pedro Rest In Peace.
Julie and Pedro, so very sorry for the loss of your father and father in law
Prayers for comfort and peace.
Miss you Julie.
So sorry to lose.you, he was a colleague,dear friend, almost like family ! Descansa en paz querido amigo,. Nos harás mucha falta ! Loor a tu memoria! My deepest sympathy to the family Angela. Ángela María y Pedro Pablo !
May the souls of the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in eternal peace!
Our WARMI family (wife in Quechua) mourns the passing of our co-founder and friend, our dear Pedro Ruiz. Our eternal thanks to him for his generosity and his passion to support initiatives to improve mental health in women. We will follow his legacy at WARMI, http://www.warmimentalhealth
Our sincere condolences to his beloved wife Angela, his son Pedro Pablo, his daughter Angela Maria and all his family and friends. May he rest in peace.
Sincere condolences to Angela and family. Pedro was a giant in psychiatry in the U. S. and across the globe. He was President of every significant psychiatric association. We will miss his leadership, warmth, and scholarship. Steve and Margaret Sharfstein.
Please accept my most sincere condolences Pedro’s contribution to psychiatry is vast and it was a privilege to know him and work with him.
Professor Pedro Ruiz made significant contributions to his chosen field of psychiatry and demonstrated leadership nationally and internationally. His generosity of spirit and kindness will be remembered. My sincere condolences to his family and friends. My thoughts and prayers are with them all.
It is with great sorrow that I have been informed about the loss of Prof. Pedro Ruiz, a very distinguished psychiatrist who has served as President of the World Psychiatric Association and has received many distinctions in his professional life.
With Pedro we have served together as members of the executive Committee of the WPA and I have been impressed with his knowledge, thrust, vitality and decisiveness.
My condolences to his family and many friends.
Mi reverencia, mi respeto y eterno recuerdo a su nombre. Condolencias a su familia. Mi padre y mi madre también fueron Ruiz.
So sorry to lose a gentle colleague and dear friend. We met in many countries. He was to visit me in Damascus Syria in 2008. RIP from New Zealand
Nuestras condolencias para la estimadísima familia Ruiz, particularmente para doña Angela y sus hijos. Pedro fue y seguirá siendo una inspiración para las más variadas ramas de la psiquiatría y de la medicina en general, pero probablemente más importantemente un ejemplo de servicio tanto a los paciemtes más necesitados y marginalizados como a sus colegas, estudiantes y colaboradores. En especial quiero reconocer su incondicional amistad y apoyo para quienes fuimos privilegiados de contar con ellos. Entre muchas manifestaciones de su amistad atesoro la ocasión en que tuvimos la fortuna de tenerlo de huesped de honor en la conferencia psiquiátrica del Doctors Hospital at Renaissance en McAllen, Texas. Solo le pregunté ¿podrias venir? Y vino, dejando importantes ocupaciones solo para ayudar a un amigo, a mi. Al mismo tiempo atesoraré permanentemente el cariño que manifestó siempre por mi familia, Pedro, te extrañaremos intensa y profundamente
Fructuoso Irigoyen MD DLFAPA
Deepest condolences on the passing of our dear friend and esteemed colleague Professor Pedro Ruiz. Heartfelt solicitude to Angela and family and everyone who loved, admired, and respected Pedro everywhere around the world.
Praying for you and your family…🙏🏾 May God bless you and your family in this time of need.
Pedro is still a mentor and role model for me during my career and for so many of us. His common touch and ready willingness to give of himself to all (from the least to the highest) was unique. At the same time, he reached the highest pinnacles of leadership and knowledge in Psychiatry, becoming an international luminary. He practiced and advocated for cultural competence from the outset and contributed to making Psychiatry truly global. He learned from his immigrant roots and his early life being stateless so he could speak for those who had no voice. I urge all of us to dedicate ourselves to the high ideals and values by which he lived and which he taught us.
PS: My deepest condolences to his wonderful family, especially his dear and devoted wife Angela, with many thanks for graciously sharing him with us.
Le mie condoglianze alla famiglia. È stato un uomo straordinario, e uno scienziato altrettanto straordinario. La sua perdita è un lutto insanabile per la Psichiatria tutta.
Our deepest condolences on the passing of a great friend and leader. Pedro was a gifted and brilliant clinician, teacher, mentor, researcher and collaborator. The number of students he mentored was vast. He was always ready to help others. No matter how busy he was, or where and when he was travelling, he stayed connected to his patients and his family. He will be missed by so many. It was a gift to have known him.
We lost a great leader
My sincerest condolences. I met him as a young girl and friends with Angela Maria. My deepest sympathies.
Angela I am so sorry to hear of your dad’s passing. May God wrap you in His arms and give you and your family comfort and peace.
Dear Mrs. Ruiz,
I was terribly sorry to learn of Pedro’s passing. I knew Pedro through the American Psychiatric Association (APA). He was a wonderful and uplifting person trying to make good things happen. I cannot imagine the considerable grief you and your family must be experiencing. Please express my condolences to your entire family. I wish you and your family the very best.
Herbert Pardes, M.D.
Q.E.PD. Mi querido profesor.
I am very sorry and sad to learn of Pedro’s passing. I worked alongside him at Bronx State Psychiatric Center and he was the very best Director we ever had. He was very supportive of the medical staff and I was honored to become President of the Medical Board and I was the first Chairman of the newly formed Hospital Forensic Committee before moving to become the first Clinical. Director of the newly established Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center. Pedro invited me to write a chapter on Forensic Psychiatry for a book he was writing. This was characteristic of his warm and always helpful way with his colleagues. I am very glad and honored to have known him.
Ahmed Hakki MD
16 Rockledge Avenue, Apt 4N1
Ossining NY 10562
My best professor.
I’ll never forget you.
Rest in peace Professor Pedro Ruiz.