Dr. Robert Lippa, 55, dies while rowing

Posted: January 11, 2012

SATURDAY was an unseasonably warm day, an ideal time to be out on the river.

It was where Bob Lippa loved to be.

He was among more than 30 masters who showed up to row on the Schuylkill that morning. He was stroking one of the quads, a four-man scull, racing against three other boats, when he collapsed.

Several doctors and emergency-response personnel were among the rowers, but they were unable to revive him. He was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Robert Leo Lippa, a physician specializing in emergency care and occupational health, and a man whose entire life was devoted to helping others, was 55 and lived in Bala Cynwyd.

He was a member of the Fairmount Rowing Association on Boathouse Row and rowed every day.

His daughter, Sara, also a rower, said that her father had been in good health and that his death was a shock to everyone.

Bob was an emergency-room doctor for more than 20 years, most recently at Lankenau Hospital. He was lately associated with WorkNet, which treats workers injured on the job at 17 locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

"Dad was generous, kindhearted and loving," said his daughter, who also rows with Fairmount. "But more importantly, he touched people's lives through his actions. He cared for everyone. He wanted to help people."

Among Bob's volunteer activites was helping those with disabilities to row with special equipment through Philadelphia Adaptive Rowing on the Schuylkill.

"Bob was one of the quietest, most humble guys I have met," said Edward Moran, a former Daily News staff writer and himself a rower and rowing coach.

"He was a true pleasure to have around, always smiling, always engaging, and always ready to help," said Moran, who is now associated with USRowing, the national team.

Bob Lippa was born to Sherman Lippa and the former Judith Barenberg in Swampscott, Mass., where he was raised and went to school.

He graduated from Amherst College in 1979, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1983. He began his work in emergency trauma at Heywood Hospital in Gardner, Mass., before coming to the Philadelphia area to work at Lankenau.

Bob was also into skiing and was a member of the Spring Mountain Ski Patrol in the Poconos.

"He lived his life helping others in need," his daughter said.

Besides her, he is survived by his wife of nearly 30 years, the former Carol Ryan, also a medical doctor; two sons, Alex and Adam; four sisters, Frances Lippa-Rohn, Amy Lippa, Martha Lippa and Gail McGregor.

Services: Noon tomorrow at the D'Anjolell Memorial Home of Broomall, 2811 West Chester Pike, Broomall. Friends may call at 5 p.m. today and at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the funeral home. Burial will be in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the National Epilepsy Foundation - epilepsy foundation.org - or the Eastern Pennsylvania Epilepsy Foundation, 919 Walnut St., Suite 700, Philadelphia 19107.

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