Gordon P. Buzby Jr., 55, Penn surgeon, professor

Posted: November 03, 2003

Gordon P. Buzby Jr., 55, of Bala Cynwyd, a surgeon and professor whose ability to juggle his work and family lives garnered the admiration of the young doctors he guided, died of cancer Friday at his home.

Dr. Buzby, an attending surgeon at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania since 1981, took on the role of director of the hospital's surgical residency program two years ago.

Larry Kaiser, Penn's chairman of surgery, said he tapped Dr. Buzby for the job because "he was greatly admired by the residents and you can't say that about everybody."

FOR THE RECORD - CLEARING THE RECORD, PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 4, 2003, FOLLOWS: Dr. Gordon P. Buzby Jr., whose obituary was published in yesterday's Inquirer, is survived by his wife, Karen, and their two children, Katie and Alex, and his first wife, Linda Fellinger Buzby, and their daughter, Sarah.

"One of the things Gordon did better than anybody else was balance his professional life with his personal life and they admired him for it," Kaiser said.

Dr. Buzby grew up in Abington and graduated from Abington High School. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees at Penn, where he was Phi Beta Kappa and a member of the medical honor society AOA. He also sailed for Penn as an undergraduate, achieving "All American" status for three consecutive years.

Dr. Buzby was also an extremely busy and skilled surgeon, Kaiser said. In addition, he was an expert on nutritional support for cancer patients, leading a landmark study of the use of total nutrition in surgical patients. He had more than 100 publications related to improving the nutritional status of seriously ill patients.

But despite his busy schedule, Dr. Buzby always made time for his family, his wife, Karen Buzby, said. They spent summers on the Jersey Shore, where Dr. Buzby again hit the waves off Ocean City. He was a member of the Ocean City Yacht Club and often crewed on yachts sailing offshore in the Southern Ocean Racing Conference. "With all these accolades, he loved to cut his own grass. He loved to work in the yard. He liked to build things and fix things. I think he was the only physician on his street who didn't have someone cutting it for him," Karen Buzby said.

He clearly influenced his children: Daughter Sarah, 24, is following her father's Penn footsteps and attending the university's law school. Katie, 16, and Alex, 13, are competitive sailors.

Katie is also a rower and Dr. Buzby "would always tell her how strong she was, being able to row and achieving so much," Karen Buzby said. When the teenager won her first gold medal at a regatta last spring, she gave her prize, hanging from a red, white and blue ribbon, to her father.

"He kept it on his IV pole to give him the strength that he needed to continue during those last difficult couple of weeks," Karen Buzby said.

The medal will be placed in Dr. Buzby's coffin and buried with him.

Kaiser notified colleagues of Dr. Buzby's death by e-mail. Almost immediately, Kaiser said, he was inundated with responses. Besides his wife and children, Dr. Buzby is survived by his sister, Gail Pettit Garcia.

A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. today at St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Wynnewood Road and Athens Avenue, Ardmore. Interment is at West Laurel Hill Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to the Gordon P. Buzby Surgical Leadership Fund. Checks can be sent to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, c/o Angela Wurster, 4 Silverstein, Dept. of Surgery, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 3400 Spruce St., Philadelphia 19104.

Contact Natalie Pompilio at 215-854-2813 or npompilio@phillynews.com.

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