Robert Kyle ’52 MD has designated Feinberg School of Medicine as a beneficiary in his retirement plan
Robert and Charlene Kyle

Robert Kyle ’52 MD, with his wife, Charlene

Robert Kyle ’52 MD, who just turned 94 and is nearing the 70th anniversary of his graduation from Northwestern University Medical School (now Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine), has been reflecting on his life and career lately. In fact, he is writing a memoir—one that is sure to be action-packed, given his history. Dr. Kyle’s experiences at Northwestern and their lifelong impact inspired his planned gift to the medical school.

Dr. Kyle grew up on a farm in North Dakota. Eager to learn, he quickly outgrew the rural one-room schoolhouse nearby and eventually landed in Chicago to train as a physician at Northwestern. During an internship at Evanston Hospital, Dr. Kyle treated patients with polio who sometimes found themselves paralyzed just hours after being admitted. In 1955, he was drafted into the US Air Force; he went on to spend two years in Alaska.

Dr. Kyle ultimately became interested in hematology and settled in at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where he has spent the last 60 years and counting.

Today, he remains one of the world’s foremost experts on multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. His innovative research and patient care have transformed a field and the lives of countless patients and families.

While he no longer sees patients or runs a laboratory, Dr. Kyle scoffs at the mention of retirement. He still has an office at Mayo Clinic, actively participates in the nation’s myeloma societies, and advises colleagues and mentees.

Dr. Kyle enjoyed his time at Northwestern and has been back to campus for several class reunions. He considers himself fortunate that his parents were able to pay for his medical education, although he had his share of financial hardships when starting out in his career.

“I had to buy a car when I moved to Minnesota, and when I finished haggling with the dealer, my savings account was empty,” he remembers.

Group photo with people smiling

From left: Jim Monge ’55 MD, E. Richard Ensrud ’52 MD, the late Betty Hahneman ’52 MD, ’56 GME, and Robert Kyle ’52 MD at a reception for the medical school’s giving society in 2017

Knowing how hard it can be to pay for medical school tuition, rent, and all of life’s other needs, Dr. Kyle and his wife, Charlene, have generously supported medical students for many years. They endowed the Robert A. and Charlene M. Kyle Scholarship at Feinberg in 2005 and contribute to it annually through outright gifts.

“Tuition has increased markedly over the years, and it’s impossible for many students to afford medical school,” Dr. Kyle says. “Supporting education is very important, particularly today.”

Gift From an IRA

In 2013, the Kyles pledged additional support to their scholarship in their estate plans, making Feinberg a beneficiary of a portion of their estate. Their gift includes a retirement plan beneficiary designation, a giving arrangement that allows donors to transfer all or a portion of their retirement plan assets to the University at the end of their lifetime. The process is simple and allows Northwestern to receive the account assets tax-free.

“I believe in philanthropy,” Dr. Kyle says. “To the best of my ability, I have designated money to support causes that are important to me.”

Plan For the Future

Your philanthropy can help the University prepare students to be leaders in their fields. For information about how you can use your IRA to meet your charitable goals, contact Northwestern Gift Planning at 800-826-6709 or

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