William Nauen, M.D.

Obituary of William Henry Nauen, M.D.

William Henry Nauen, M.D., born June 25, 1945 in Olean, New York, died January 22, 2021 in Syracuse, New York. He was the son of Ruth and Richard; and brother of Ric (Jeanette), Jim (Gail), and Nancy Grace. Husband for more than 50 years to Sharon (Onderdonk); and father to David (Rekha), Kevin (Vannida), Daniel, and Jacquelyn. Grandfather to Elena, Sarasa, Mitra, and Ionysia; brother-in-law to Gary and Diane Onderdonk, Gretchen Onderdonk and Steve Barclay; uncle to 6 nieces and nephews and granduncle to 6 more. Bill grew up in Western and Central New York where his father was medical director for tuberculosis hospitals. He took trips as a child with his family to the great national parks of the West, developing a deep and reverential love for nature. He graduated from East Rochester High School, Hamilton College, and Upstate Medical University, then, after medical internship in Albany, practiced medicine for two years in the Indian Health Service in Tishomingo, Oklahoma. Returning to Syracuse, he completed family practice residency at St. Joseph's Hospital, where he remained on the teaching faculty for many years. As a family physician he worked at Central Square Health Center where he set broken bones and stitched wounds. He cared for children and the elderly, delivered babies and staffed emergency rooms. He tried to help some patients find more effective ways to control blood pressure or blood sugar and supported others finding their way out of addiction or abusive relationships. They would call him at any time of the day or night and discuss for hours. In 1994, though he was routinely going on 10+ mile runs, on a short jog one afternoon he suffered a massive heart attack. He fought death a long time and came back from the brink, but sustained wounds -- his memory was damaged and to his unspeakably deep sadness he was never again able to care for patients. He did not linger on his losses and tried only to find ways to be engaged and to help. He loved sailing on Oneida Lake, cross-country skiing, hiking and walking, and sharing his joy at being outdoors with family and friends, human or canine. He was a member of Rockefeller Church. His philosophy was to give time, give love, give the benefit of the doubt, and never give up. He was a soccer coach and a water skier, a puzzle solver, map aficionado, master camper, early riser, photographer, and fort builder. He didn't waste time with unkind words or holding grudges, and he could always see a way to resolve situations that let everyone involved rise up a bit. He was a devoted father and adoring husband. His core personality was structured around planning, perseverance, and patience, and these attributes, only strengthened by his injury, carried him far beyond it. He volunteered at the Upstate Medical Center Library, with the Syracuse Rose Society, and with Meals on Wheels. He learned piano and traveled extensively, mostly to visit family. He communed with nature in his temple of the outdoors and with simple tools, by relentless will, reshaped his physical environment. Those whose lives he touched are grateful for the time together. In light of the pandemic, a memorial service is being planned by the family for the future. Donations in Bill's memory can be made to Meals on Wheels of Syracuse (meals.org) or Doctors without Borders (doctorswithoutborders.org) Arrangements are with Fairchild & Meech DeWitt Chapel.
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