On Saturday, September 4, 2010, the world of nutrition and integrative health lost a giant figure.
On that day, Robert Crayhon lost his battle with cancer. He was 49.
Let me tell you something about Robert, and why I’m writing about him in this newsletter.
If you’re reading this newsletter, then presumably, on some level, somewhere, my work has touched you or affected you or at least interested you enough for you to subscribe. That honors me, because it means- on some level, however small – I’ve made a difference in your life.
But behind every person who’s ever made a difference, there are teachers, mentors and important people without whom that person would not be doing what they’re doing. Robert Crayhon was such a person in my life- and I can honestly say that my work would not be what it is were it not for him.
A concert pianist, stand-up comedian, and ultimately, one of the smartest and most erudite nutritionists in the country, Robert taught hundreds of doctors, chiropractors, nutritionists and health professionals. He did it with wit, with a frighteningly sharp intelligence, with style and with passion. I cannot remember writing a book or an article- and I’ve written hundreds- without a little voice in my head reading over the final draft asking, “What would Robert think?”
Born in Mt Vernon, New York, April 30, 1961, he grew up in Pelham, NY and attended Iona Prep, Colgate University, Oberlin College, where he majored in classical piano studies. He attained an M.S. degree at SUNY, and then began a brilliant career as a nutritionist, living and teaching in Boulder, CO for several years. (Robert founded- and ran- the legendary Boulderfest Conference in Nutritional Medicine where some of the brightest and best minds came to speak, share, argue and learn.)
As the Cape Cod Times accurately put it, “His writing and clinical presentations were seasoned with his quick wit and innate sense of humor, allowing his audience to laugh as they learned.”
To give you a sense of who Robert was, check out what he wrote on the blog he started when he was first diagnosed with 4th stage colon cancer. It speaks far more eloquently about who he was than I could ever do:
If you are looking for something fun and exciting, don’t pick cancer. It’s boring. You’re tired, you don’t look your best, and have a paleness to you that people don’t seem to like. You become obsessed with your diet and treatment plan. What’s more, your stories aren’t interesting.
I was at a small gathering the other night and started telling of some of the exciting developments in my life of late. “Yes, well, I JUST got a great juicer on eBay for good price. I mean, the bidding the last day went like this…” The eyes of my listener glazed over. Then some chap who had just gotten back from Alaska started telling interesting stories about how rugged things are up there and what work he was doing for some oil company. So much for my juicer buying adventure.
So, looking for fun? Travel. Join a book club. Take a cooking class. Learn to ski. But cancer? I can’t recommend it. Not if you want fun stories to tell.
No wonder just about everyone who ever heard him speak or lecture would say, “That dude can make anything interesting!”
His research was impeccable. His book “Nutrition Made Simple” became an instant classic and to this day is the book I recommend to anyone who wants the best basic intro to nutrition available.
He was often referred to by friends and associates as the most ethical and moral person they knew.
Armed with a treasure chest of talents, Robert was an accomplished classical and jazz pianist, a stand-up comic, producer and co-writer of a spoof musical performed off-off Broadway, contributor to National Public Radio and television. He gave of himself in many ways to many people, and was truly loved.
He died at the home of his dear friends Jonathan and Linda Lizotte, about whom a word is in order. Robert and the Lizottes together founded Designs for Health—one of the supplement companies I most recommend and love. Around a decade or so ago, the Lizottes bought Robert out, and Robert started Crayhon Research, for all intents and purposes a “competing” company in the nutraceutical business.
In most businesses, that would not be the stuff out of which lifelong friendships are made.
Yet when Robert got sick, the first people to step up to the plate were the Lizottes. They flew with him to clinics in Mexico, took him into their home, and ultimately provided him with a comfortable, loving environment in which he could have hospice care and in which he ultimately passed away. That speaks volumes about who they are. Just like every other person who loved Robert, I will be forever grateful to the Lizottes.
I’ve already written the dedication to my next book, but you don’t have to wait for that book to read the dedication. It sums up everything I need to say about Robert:
“To Robert Crayhon:
Nutritionist, educator, writer, entertainer, artist and humanitarian.
Without you, I would not be doing what I’m doing”
Thank you Robert.
Rest in peace.