Mclean Hospital

In Memoriam: Theodore Dreier Jr.

February 15, 2019

Theodore Dreier Jr., MD, a former staff psychiatrist in McLean’s geriatric psychiatry treatment programs, died on February 4, 2019. He was 89.

Dr. Dreier studied dance as a young man with famed choreographer Merce Cunningham, graduated from Harvard College, and prepared to become a professional musician in Germany before switching to a medical career. He earned his medical degree from Temple University, completed his internship at San Francisco General Hospital and finished his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. His psychiatric practice spanned the lifecycle, beginning with children at Boston Children’s Hospital, proceeding to couples’ therapy, and evolving to specialize in geriatrics at McLean Hospital in Belmont, where he worked for more than 30 years.

Throughout his life, Dreier oscillated between two main themes, “artistic expressive” and “intellectual scientific,” as he described them in Harvard reunion notes. During the 1960s at Boston Children’s Hospital, he conducted research with Dr. Peter Wolf on infant sucking and breathing patterns, publishing results in medical journals. In his 80s, he sang in the Harvard-Radcliffe Chorus and returned to writing poetry, drawing, and painting. Toward the end of his life, Dreier retained his ability to waltz and to appreciate music ranging from classical to bluegrass.

He is survived by his wife, Kit, of Lincoln; sister, Barbara Beate Dreier of Livingston Manor, New York; his three daughters, Katharine Read Villars and her husband, Thomas, of Norwich, Vermont, Elizabeth Low Dreier, of Menlo Park, California, and Ruth Antoinette Dreier, of Santa Rosa, California; son, Richard Read of Portland, Oregon; and granddaughter, Nehalem Kunkle-Read, of Somerville, Massachusetts. Two brothers, Mark and Edward, predeceased Dreier. A memorial gathering will be held in the spring, at a date to be announced.