Deceased December 8, 2018
Sanford B. Sternlieb M.D. died suddenly, but peacefully, at home on Dec. 8, 2018. He had recently hosted a weekend celebration of his 94th birthday with four generations of his family and friends and also hosted a family Thanksgiving gathering. He never stopped living fully, planning travel, concerts and other activities for himself and those close to him. He was predeceased by his wife of 57 years, Esther (Iskowitz) in 2003; his younger brother, Alan ’49, in 2013; and a son, Michael J., M.D. in 1999. He is survived by two children, Jeffrey L., Ph.D. ’69 of Wyomissing, Pa., and Susan J. of Fort Collins Colo.; seven grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and his companion of 15 years, Renate Koppelman.
Dad was a tough act to follow. He was a wrestler in high school; a frogman in the navy during WWII (pre-curser to today’s Special Forces); went to medical school in Switzerland and learned French, anatomy and physiology simultaneously; and was the first board certified orthopedic surgeon in our northeast Pennsylvania community. He valued family, education and the arts. He encouraged and supported the efforts of his three children and five of his seven grandchildren to earn post baccalaureate degrees.
I have several truly Amherst memories with my Dad. My interview for admission was, like so many in my class, with Dean Wilson! I think he and my Dad spent more time talking about Dad’s freshman English class than asking me about my goals. Being at Amherst was a transition from being intimidated by my Dad to being intimidated by my classmates, and I almost dropped out in the middle of my sophomore year. To my Dad’s credit, he convinced me to return for the spring semester. However, he had to accept a shift in major from his preference for me of pre-med to my preference of psychology. I think that was a difficult choice for him to accept but getting an education was primary. Many, many years later, I joined Dad for his 65th reunion. He had donated his significant collection of early 20th century American art to the Mead Art Gallery, including works by Hopper, Sloan and Marin. There was a ceremony marking the exhibit of these works on paper along with a discussion of the significance of the collection led by another returning alum from a “younger” class. Although he was invited to talk about amassing this collection, he never liked the spotlight and only shared a few thoughts about being pleased to find a second home for these museum quality works of art. It was wonderful to see him get this appreciation from his surviving classmates in attendance and from the College.
Dad enrolled at Amherst in the summer of 1942, continued in the U.S. Navy’s V-12 program at Williams and ultimately returned to Amherst to graduate after the war. He completed a M.S. in Biology at University of Michigan and then his M.D. from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. He completed an internship in Hazleton, Pa., and a residency in orthopedic surgery at Philadelphia General Hospital, becoming chief resident in his last year. After completing his training, Dad established Bone and Joint Associates in Wilkes-Barre where he earned a reputation for excellence in hand surgery and joint replacement.
My father had a strong passion for life, and he introduced us as children to museums (MOMA, the Met, etc.), theater and classical music. (I can still “hear” Chopin polonaises he played on our piano at home.) He enjoyed traveling, cooking and his only complaint was that there wasn’t enough time to read everything! He left an indelible impact on his family, his profession and his community, and he will be sorely missed by all.
Jeffrey L. Sternlieb Ph.D. ’69