E. Robert Heitzman, Jr. MD
1927 - 2020
Obituary of E. Robert Heitzman, Jr. MD
E. Robert Heitzman Jr., MD of Syracuse passed away on November 4, after a long battle with cancer. He was 93. Bob Heitzman was born in Syracuse, NY to Katherine Geary Heitzman and E. Robert Heitzman Sr. and attended Elmwood School and St. Anthony Padua School. After completing 5 semesters at Syracuse University, he was accepted into medical school and drafted into the Navy. He returned to Syracuse and began his association with SUNY Upstate in the late 1940s when he was admitted to what was then the College of Medicine at Syracuse University. He earned his medical degree in 1951.
In 1954, he married the love of his life, Betty Brookins. After residency and fellowship in radiology at the University of Minnesota Hospitals, he was drafted as a Medical Doctor into the Air Force during the Korean War. The couple spent 21 months at Barksdale Air Force Base, until 1957 when he joined the faculty of SUNY Upstate as an assistant professor of radiology and they returned to Syracuse.
Dr. Heitzman’s leadership positions during his tenure at SUNY Upstate included service as chair of the Department of Radiology and director of the department’s diagnostic division. Other Central New York medical institutions benefited from his leadership when he served as radiology chief at Crouse-Irving Hospital and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Nearly a dozen scientific and medical societies counted Dr. Heitzman as a key member of their boards of directors and special committees. He was State President of the American College of Radiology in 1973, President of the Fleischner Society in 1978, and President of the Radiological Society of North America in 1990.
An acclaimed researcher in the anatomy of the lung and its diseases, Dr. Heitzman is author of the classic texts The Lung: Radiologic-Pathologic Correlations, The Mediastinum, and hundreds of articles on diseases of the chest. He was invited to give scientific and educational presentations at over 90 hospitals and universities in 14 countries.
Among Dr. Heitzman’s numerous honors are his appointment as a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor. In 1998 SUNY Upstate established the E. Robert Heitzman, MD, Endowed Professor of Radiological Research. According to the Upstate Medical University Foundation, this remains one of the most widely supported endowments in the history of the university, a testament to Dr. Heitzman’s widespread influence on trainees, colleagues, and friends.
He was a lifelong, devout Catholic and was a parishioner at St. Ann’s Parish. He served as a Eucharistic Minister, most recently bringing the sacrament to St. Camillus nursing home. He was an avid golfer and belonged to Bellevue Country Club. He loved watching all sports, but none more than his Syracuse University basketball and football teams.
He was preceded in death by his wife Elizabeth B. Heitzman. He is survived by his sister Joan and her husband James Gorman of Syracuse, cousin Richard Sheeran of Syracuse, daughter Dr. Elizabeth and her husband Dr. Laurence Donahue of Rochester, NY, daughter Dr. Anne and her husband Dr. Stephen Rowley of Oak Park, IL, son E. Robert III of Syracuse, daughter Carol and her husband Dr. Robert Mastey of Chattanooga, TN, nephews James Gorman of Syracuse and Christopher and his wife Nancy Gorman of Syracuse. He is also survived by his grandchildren Dr. Larry Donahue (Tracy), Katie Donahue, Molly Donahue Bilinski (Mike), Colleen Donahue, Colleen Rowley Schramm (Bill), Michael Rowley (Abby), Carol Rowley, Robbie Heitzman, Katrina Heitzman, Sarah Mastey, Megan Mastey and Tyler Mastey, and seven great-grandchildren.
A funeral mass will be held Monday November 9, 2020 at 11am at St Ann’s Church, 4471 Onondaga Boulevard, Syracuse, preceded by a calling hour from 10-11am. Donations in Dr. Heitzman’s name can be made to Catholic Charities, 2050 Ballenger Ave Suite 400, Alexandria, VA 22314, www.catholiccharitiesusa.org.
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