In Memoriam

Robert Joseph Szarnicki, MED’69

Born October 29, 1943 in the steel mill town of Natrona Heights, PA to Frank and Xaviera Szarnicki. Raised within a strong Polish Catholic family tradition, Bob attended The Pontifical College Josephium seminary prior to finishing his high school career at Har-Brack High School. He attended Columbia College in the city of New York, finding great friends and the intellectual challenge that inspired his desire to become a doctor. Receiving his M.D. from Boston University, he completed his surgical residency at Boston City Hospital, followed by residency at St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City (1970) and University Hospital in Boston (1971). He then served as Exchange Registrar at University Hospital of Wales, in Cardiff and Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport Wales (1972). Falling in love with heart surgery, Bob returned to Boston as Chief Resident at University Hospital, followed by Chief Cardio Thoracic Resident at Harlem Hospital and Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. His training then led him to serve as Senior Registrar of the Thoracic Unit at The Hospital for Sick Children in London, England. This final post deepened his love for pediatric heart surgery, a developing field, serving and saving babies born with congenital heart defects. In 1977, Bob came to San Francisco to build the adult and pediatric heart program at Pacific Presbyterian Medical Center which eventually became California Pacific Medical Center(CPMC), and now Sutter Health. With more than 200 regional, national, and international publications and more than 100 lectures on adult and pediatric cardio-thoracic surgery, he ended his career as a pioneer and leader in a field that decreased patient morbidity from 95% to 5% within a 20 year period. What brought his heart joy was his family and friends. Bob is survived by his wife, Mary, and children Anna and Tim, and daughter in law, Megan. His friends from The Guardsmen, The Garfield, CPMC, The Janet Polmeroy Center, St. Ignatius College Prep, and The Presidio Golf Club brought out his distinctive laugh, showcased his smile, and all felt the power of his love. Bob was a big man who had a larger than life impact on the lives he touched. When Bob touched your heart, literally or figuratively, you were changed forever because your life’s expectancy improved. Bob will be missed and never forgotten because he gave his life to others in a spirit of service and vocation. In lieu of flowers or gifts, Bob asked we consider making a contribution to either The Guardsmen, P.O. Box 29250, San Francisco, CA 94129-0250 or Coming Home Hospice, 115 Diamond St., San Francisco, CA94114. Per Bob’s request, private services were held with immediate family and close friends. As Bob did, he asks us to: mend broken hearts, find your passion, and be your best.