In Memorium: Robert H. Waterman, Jr.

January 7, 2022 The RLS community has lost a giant with the recent passing of Robert H. Waterman, Jr. His career as a management con...

January 7, 2022

The RLS community has lost a giant with the recent passing of Robert H. Waterman, Jr. His career as a management consultant and Senior Partner with McKinsey & Co. culminated with the publication of the first “blockbuster” book on sound management practices. In Search of Excellence, co-authored by Bob and his McKinsey partner, Tom Peters, rose to the top of the New York Times Best Seller List, and changed the way business leaders around the globe thought about their roles as heads of successful companies.

Like many individuals who have served on the Board of Directors of the RLS Foundation, Bob was afflicted by the disease - so much so that it disrupted his career as a Senior Partner at McKinsey and led him to a path as an independent management consultant with The Waterman Group. It also led him to more than two decades of leadership at the RLS Foundation.

Bob served as Chair of the Board of Directors for six years (1999-2005) and later as Chair Emeritus (2010-2019).

Bob brought his insights, along with his passion for excellence, to the RLS community. He was a strong proponent of strategic planning and led the strategic planning initiatives for the RLSF Board for many years. He believed in setting BHAGs — Big Hairy Audacious Goals — and in that vein articulated basic strategic goals that remain at the core of the Foundation’s work today: Improve Awareness; Develop Better Treatments; Find a Cure.

As a member of the Board during the organization's early years, he took it upon himself to establish the Research Grant Program. The program's purpose was to attract leading researchers from around the globe to apply for seed money grants to further develop a hypothesis for external funding at the National Institutes of Health or other organizations in the hopes of identifying durable treatments and a cure for RLS.

As the RLS Foundation approaches its 30th anniversary in 2022, the RLS community is thankful for Bob spearheading the Research Grant Program effort at this pivotal point in the organization's early years. Member support of this initiative has led to 48 grants totaling nearly $2 million in funding. In 2022, the Research Grant Program will celebrate its 25th anniversary. Bob's leadership and vision for the program has led to breakthrough discoveries in genetics, iron regulation, neurophysiology, and treatment.

Bob received the prestigious Ekbom Award in 2008 in recognition of his meritorious service to the RLS Foundation.

Memorial donations in his honor can be made to the Waterman Memorial Research Fund to support RLS research.

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