In addition to his many accomplishments as a physician and researcher, Dr. Robert Kyle is also very well-known in the field of philately. His journey as a stamp collector had an interesting start. In 1965, during a forty-day hospitalization for a back injury, Dr. Kyle returned to a childhood hobby: stamp collecting. After his release, he spent more time learning about stamps, and was inspired to make a list of all the blood transfusion stamps that had been issued throughout the world. This resulted in a collection of about 120 stamps dedicated to the subject. He also began a collection of commemorative stamps related to cancer.
Subsequently, Dr. Kyle became involved in the American Topical Association and eventually was named president of the Medical Subjects Unit. With the support of his friend, Irving J. Wolman, MD, a pediatric hematologist at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, he began a letter writing campaign to the U.S. Postal Service requesting the issuance of a commemorative stamp honoring blood donors. The American Association of Blood Banks soon learned about this campaign and helped influence the US Postal Service. In 1971, the U.S. Postal Service issued the first U.S. stamp devoted to blood transfusion, Dr. Kyle attended the First Day Stamp Ceremonies in New York City and was present at the issuance of the stamp.
With a colleague at the Mayo Clinic, Marc Shampo, PhD, Dr. Kyle published a book on vignettes about people who had made important medical contributions and the stamps issued in their honor, published by JAMA. He continued to write vignettes on the intersection of medicine and philately, which were published by JAMA, and then later in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, resulting in over 650 articles and four books of vignettes. His subjects have ranged from stamps highlighting the history of malaria to, more recently, stamps issued by Austria in honor of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Kyle has received several honors for his writing including the prestigious Myrtle Watt Award for Medical Philately Journalism. In 1982, he was named the Distinguished Topical Philatelist by the American Topical Association. Dr. Kyle is still an active stamp collector, and continues to collect U.S. commemorative stamps.