Lecturer dies of heart troubles

Caron's work as an advocate for Alzheimer's patients was his passion.

Lindsay Guentzel

Dr. Wayne Caron was a man with a mission who became an advocate for Alzheimer’s patients and their families through his work at the University.

Dr. Caron, former senior lecturer and assistant professor in the University’s department of family social science, died of a pulmonary embolism at his home in St. Paul Aug. 24. He was 51 years old.

He received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University in 1982, and held both a master’s degree and a doctorate in family social science.

His work was not only his passion, his son Chris Caron said; it was his mission in life.

“He was always dedicated to the University of Minnesota,” the sophomore at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

As the founder of the Family Caregiving Center, Dr. Caron’s research focused on chronic illnesses, with an emphasis on dementia and Alzheimer’s. He worked directly with families affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s and helped them work through the illnesses.

Dr. Robert Kane, a professor in the School of Public Health and the director for the Center on Aging, said Dr. Caron was one of the first therapists to help family members of Alzheimer’s patients deal with the stress of being caregivers.

“What he tried to do was teach them actual coping skills – practical ways for them, for dealing with these troublesome behaviors,” Kane said.

Chris Caron said his dad was a “techie” and loved experimenting with new technology in hopes of helping his patients and expanding his research.

“He was really into the newest technology crazes, like Podcasting and iPods,” Chris Caron said. “He was always trying to find a way to use those things as his next big break.”

Recently, four of Dr. Caron’s Podcasts were made available on iTunes for free.

Chris Caron said he remembers his dad as a level-headed, caring person whom colleagues and students loved.

“He always found time for everything and just seemed to know how to strike that balance,” he said. “He was always working, not in a workaholic way, but he always had his mind on his job.

“He could just connect with anyone and really help them through anything,” Chris Caron said.

Dr. Caron’s mission will continue at the University through a memorial fund set up by his friends and colleagues. The funds will go directly to help families dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s.