Frederick Parker, Jr., M.D.

Obituary of Frederick B. Parker, Jr., M.D.

Frederick Blackmon Parker Jr., M.D., 84, of DeWitt, died December 5, 2020 at home. His wife Ginny was by his side and caregiver, Diama Koura and Rev. David Blanchard were with him as well. A proud native son of Lowville, NY, Fritz was born on April 15, 1936. He was the son of Margaret S. and Frederick B. Parker and older brother to his most loyal friend, John S. Parker (deceased). Fritz attended Lowville Academy and Central School, and received his BA from the University of Rochester in 1958 and his MD from the University of Rochester Medical School in 1962. From 1968-1970 he served as Chief of Surgical Services and consultant in general surgery at Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, Washington. He then returned to Albany Medical Center to finish his surgical residency and cardiothoracic fellowship. Fritz and Ginny, and their children, Amy and Matthew, moved to Syracuse in 1971 where he was appointed Assistant Professor of Surgery at SUNY Upstate Medical University. In 1976 he was appointed Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery and in 1981 was named Professor of Surgery. In 1990, he became Chair of the Surgery Department and remained in this position until he retired in 2001, when he was named Emeritus Professor of Surgery. He joyfully taught medical students, always inquiring about their hometowns and expressing great interest in getting to know them. He trained generations of surgery residents, and dozens of cardiothoracic surgeons who today practice to the highest standards of excellence and patient care around the world, carrying on his legacy. While Fritz was devoting his life to medical education, Ginny, along with Suzanne McAuliffe, founded Kynda Montessori School in 1975, where they inspired young, curious and wonderful children to love learning and go on to make their own contributions to the world. After retiring from SUNY Upstate Medical University, Fritz continued as a mentor and advisor while engaging his passions fully; fly-fishing with his dear friends, bird watching, writing a book about his beloved family camp in the Adirondacks and fundraising for organizations he loved. These included SUNY Upstate Medical University, the Upstate Foundation, Syracuse Symphony Orchestra/Symphoria, Syracuse Stage, the Central New York Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, Tug Hill for Tomorrow Land Trust, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and the University of Rochester Medical School. His deep devotion and quiet persistence enabled him to be quite successful in raising money. The family will remember Fritz as a man who, from the time he was a boy, loved learning and taking on challenges. Becoming an Eagle Scout, playing football at the University of Rochester, finding a bird by its call, performing open-heart surgery, learning Italian, catching a rainbow trout with a fly-fishing rod and winning at family Pitch games were all challenges he enjoyed. Fritz also loved sharing his enthusiasms with his family. A lifelong film buff, he always had a classic movie cued up for after-dinner family entertainment. With his naturalist’s heart, he delighted in showing younger members of the family a new wildflower or moth he’d found. He cherished time spent with his grandchildren, Kyler and Sophie, and loved listening to their musical performances via FaceTime. For 58 years he and Ginny had great fun together. They travelled widely at home and abroad. However, they particularly treasured being with family in the Adirondacks and on the coast of Maine. Abroad, going to Chile was their favorite adventure where they made new lifetime friends. At home, they enjoyed having beloved friends and colleagues visit, and appreciated their community of Syracuse with its fabulous people, fascinating history and rich cultural life. Fritz’s dearly loved cousin recently wrote words that ring true: “We all feel the loss of his dear thoughtfulness, the warmth of his smile, the laughter in his eyes, his enthusiasm, his curiosity, and the strength of his convictions. How can one so gentle be so firm?” Fritz is survived by his wife Virginia; his daughter, Amy and her husband Paul Stein; his son, Matthew and his wife Ying Zhou; his beloved grandchildren, Kyler and Sophie Parker; his sister in-law, Abby Anderson; his brother in-law, Steve Barnes; his nephew, John Parker, M.D. and his wife Sheila Parker and their children Matt and Meg; his niece, Kirsten Basch and her husband Jonathan Basch and their children Nathan and Adam; and his nephew, David Anderson and his wife Kellie Anderson and their children Jack, Mollie and Adie. He is also survived by his first cousins, Seth Strickland, Cynthia Strickland, Carter (Nan) Strickland, Marcia Davis, Allan Letherland, John Decker, M.D., Jane Decker Hopeman, Anne Decker Gaughan, and Margaret Decker; and their children and grandchildren. From the bottom of our hearts, Fritz’s family would like to thank his doctors, Dr. Barbara Krenzer, Dr. Bill Berkery and his colleague and dear friend, Dr. Leslie Kohman as well as our remarkable caregivers, Diama Koura, Naffie Tunis of Nascentia Home Care, Rebecca Auyer of Inspire Care, and Hospice of CNY. Their expertise and wise guidance enabled us to care for him at home. We must also add the name of Dr. Tara Ramachandran (deceased) to this list. We are ever-grateful for his expertise and remarkable loving care of Fritz. We would also like to thank our extended family, our beloved friends and our incredible neighbors for their amazingly loving support – food, flowers, phone calls, paper delivery and even curtains. We couldn’t have done this without all of them. The family is planning a memorial service at Weiskotten Hall when it is safe for people to gather. He will be buried this spring in Lowville, NY. Donations can be made in Fritz’s memory to, The Upstate Foundation, 750 East Adams Street, CAB Suite 326, Syracuse, NY 13210 or to, The Frederick Parker Jr., M.D., Endowed Lecture in Cardiothoracic Surgery at https://www.upstatefoundation.org/parker. “In love he practiced, and in patience taught, the sacred art that battles with disease…” -The Medical Herald, Volume XXVI, 1907 Arrangements are with Fairchild & Meech DeWitt Chapel.
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