Dr. Schwartz was a world-renowned surgeon, academic, and author with a career that spanned nearly 70 years. He is perhaps most well known for being the founding editor of the medical student textbook Schwartz’s Principles of Surgery first published in 1969 – a 52-chapter, 1850-page textbook that became known as the ’Surgeons Bible’. It was unique for being rooted in basic science and written in a single voice. Most surgeons over the past 50 years would have read one of these editions of the seminal.
Dr. Schwartz grew up in the Bronx, NY, the son of Jewish immigrants. He graduated from New York University School of Medicine in 1950 before attending the University of Rochester, MN for his surgical residency. He finished his residency in 1957 after a 20-month leave to serve in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War and then joined the surgical faculty at the University of Rochester. For the next 60 years, he cultivated expertise in hepatobiliary surgery and other complex operations, and rose through the ranks of academic medicine, both inside and outside the University of Rochester. He served as chair of surgery from 1987 to 1998, and director of Surgical Research from 1962 to 1982. i
Dr. Schwartz served as president of the nation’s three most prominent surgical societies: the Society of Clinical Surgery (1985), the American Surgical Association (1993 – 1994), and the American College of Surgeons (ACS) (1997-1998). He was editor-in-chief of Contemporary Surgery for 28 years, the Yearbook of Surgery for 22 years, and the Journal of the American College of Surgeons for 10 years.
His contribution to the ACS was dedicated and immense. Prior to serving as ACS President, Dr. Schwartz served as a member of the Board of Regents from 1988-1998, also serving as Vice Chair (1993-1994) and Chair (1994-1997). During his tenure, he served on the Finance Committee (1997−1998), Nominating Committee (1991−1992), and Honors Committee (1988−1998). He continued his service to the Board of Regents Committee on Nominations until 2001, and to the Advisory Council to the Board until his death. He also served in other leadership roles in the College as a member of the Board of Governors (1981−1987), consultant to the Commission on Cancer (1989−1992), and as a member of the Communications Committee (1993−1994), Member Services Liaison Committee (1988−1998), Program Committee (1992−1994), and Scholarships Committee (1988−1989). He also served as President of the New York Chapter of the ACS (1979−1980).ii
In 2000, Dr Schwartz retired from practicing surgery, but spent the last 20 years of his life still dedicated to the ACS in his advisory role, as well as continuing to teach, write, and lecture. iii
It is rare for someone to excel and have tangible influence in so many aspects of their career as Dr. Schwartz did. His contributions to the surgical profession were acknowledged in 2017 when the ACS recognized him as an ‘Icon in Surgery' at the Clinical Congress in San Diego, CA. This honor coincided with the 50th anniversary of Dr. Schwartz completing the manuscript for the first edition of Schwartz’s Principles of Surgery iv Mark Taubman, M.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center shared his thoughts on Dr. Schwartz after his death, saying “Dr. Schwartz was quite simply a giant in both his field and in the life of our institution, where he was an approachable, gracious, and insightful guide to generations of physicians who drew on the deep experience and knowledge that he so willingly shared. We will miss him dearly.” v