University of Michigan
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May 22, 2019

Obituary: Roland ‘Red’ Hiss

May 19, 2017

Obituary: Roland ‘Red’ Hiss

Topic: Obituaries

Roland “Red” Hiss died Dec. 15, 2016, at the University of Michigan Hospital, surrounded by his family.

Red was born on Oct. 9, 1932, to George Crosby and Adrianne (Graham) Hiss in Newark, New Jersey.

Roland 'Red' Hiss

He grew up in Montclair, New Jersey, where he attended public schools and was a superb percussionist in several orchestras, including the All-State Orchestra and the Nutley Symphony while at a very young age. He honed his timpani skills at Interlochen National Music Camp in 1946 and 1947.

Hiss attended U-M and played cymbals in the marching band. He attended the U-M Medical School, where he organized the Phi Chi Medical Fraternity scribe system, which helped medical students keep up with lecture content for decades to come. His son, John, used this same scribe system years later.

After medical school, Hiss served in the U.S. Air Force as a flight surgeon at the School of Aviation Medicine in San Antonio, Texas. He returned to U-M for his residency and hematology fellowship. He joined the faculty of the Medical School as an assistant professor of internal medicine in 1966. He spent his whole career at Michigan, retiring as professor of internal medicine, and department chair and professor of medical education in 2003. He served as coordinator of Affiliated Hospitals on the dean’s staff. As chair of the Department of Medical Education, he strived to make continuing education of physicians and other healthcare professionals as systematic and effective as their initial training.

In addition to practicing hematology, he had a long interest in improving diabetes care, particularly translating research findings into clinical care for diabetes. He served as chief of the Demonstration and Education Division and director of the Continuing Education and Outreach Core at the Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center. At the national level, for the National Institutes of Health, he served on the steering committees of the National Diabetes Advisory Board for Patient Education Initiatives and the National Diabetes Education Program.

Hiss received many teaching awards and was principle lecturer for the hematology sequence for sophomore medical students for more than 25 years. He devoted his career to medical education and quality patient care and left a legacy of teaching throughout his lifetime.

Family members, friends and neighbors came to discuss their ailments with Hiss, as he explained and interpreted patiently, and in doing so, comforted many — even those with very serious illnesses. He was a consummate listener, father and teacher.

Hiss had a characteristic optimism and a sunny disposition that rubbed off on others. He worked hard throughout his life. If he saw something that needed organizing and doing, he made a project out of it and persuaded others to join in. He will be remembered lovingly and very much missed.

Hiss is survived by his wife, Margaret (Peggy); brother Richard (Jane) Hiss of Charlottesville, Virginia; brother-in laws, Paul McGrath of Newport Beach, California, and Patrick (Barbara) McGrath of Dublin, Ohio; son John (Rita) Hiss of Orinda, California; daughter Meredith Ketzner of Ann Arbor; and four grandchildren, Nathan and Johnny Hiss of Orinda, California, Brianna Ketzner of Milwaukee, and Morgan Brown of Troy, Ohio; and two great-grandchildren: Delesia Meadows and Drayden Lee, both of Milwaukee.

A celebration of his life is planned for 1:30 p.m. June 17 at the Michigan Union in the Pendleton Room. If attending the memorial service, please RSVP to 734-769-0570. Donations in his memory, may be directed to Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders:; telephone 212-679-6800.

— Submitted by Denise Taylor-Moon