Dedicated – Talented – Smart – Pioneer – Advocate – Change-maker – Leader – Visionary.
These are just a few words used to describe Dr. Glenn F. Zurawski, the 2013 inductee to the Liberty Central School District Wall of Fame. The depths of these adjectives used to describe Dr. Zurawski are vast – we could spend the entire time talking about his talent as a musician alone – but there is so much more to say – so much more to celebrate about the 2013 Liberty Wall of Fame Inductee.
Born and raised in Liberty, NY, Dr. Zurawski attended Liberty Central School since kindergarten. By all accounts, he was an excellent student and a very talented musician. A top-ten graduate in 1969, Dr. Zurawski was active in many different school related organizations – Honor Society, Editor-in-Chief of the “Comment,” Academic Block L scholar, band and orchestra member, Thespian Club and Math Club member – his talents and interests were unlimited.
His musical talent was regarded by many, including him, as the avenue by which his career path would travel. He competed in NYSSMA, receiving 6A ratings on not one, but four instruments (piano, organ, violin and bassoon) and it was no surprise that he received and accepted a scholarship to Wittenberg University in Springflield, OH to study music.
Halfway through his freshman year, Glenn made a decision that would alter his course and determine his future – he changed his major to pre-med. Graduating Magna Cum Laude in 1973 with a BA in Biochemistry and a minor in music (piano) he continued his education at SUNY Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, NY where he earned his medical degree in 1977. After completing his internship at the University of Southern California/Los Angeles County Medical Center and his residency at Moffett Memorial Hospital in San Francisco, he began his career as an anesthesiologist and surgeon.
After completing this part of education, Dr. Zurawski began working in private practice and was affiliated with Mills Memorial Hospital in San Mateo, CA. He became C.E.O. of his medical group, Anesthesia Care Associates, and was instrumental in founding one of the first pain control clinics in the San Francisco Bay Peninsula region. In addition, he helped establish a new surgery center at Mills Memorial Hospital and served as the Medical Director of the center from 1983-1995. During this time, there were very few of these facilities anywhere in the United States. According to friend and colleague Dr. Jessica Alexander, “Not only did he have the vision to fast-track patients through such a center, he contended with all of the burgeoning legislative and regulatory case law that came with opening this type of center to patients.”
In his spare time, aside from building facilities and running major medical centers, Dr. Zurawski was, indeed, a doctor. Dr. Alexander writes: “Glenn’s visionary medical care extended to the care of premature and high risk newborns. He was known for his work in the anesthetic management of these children in conjunction with extremely difficult surgeries. He developed specialized equipment to assist in their respiratory care, which lead to publication in several prestigious medical journals, including (but not limited to) the New England Journal of Medicine. He also worked side by side with some of the leading cancer surgeons in the world to perfect the life-saving anesthetic techniques that are now used in facilities all over the world.”
Between these accomplishments, Dr. Zurawski served as an adjunct professor of Anesthesiology at California State University, Berkley and obtained his Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco, Suma Cum Laude with a perfect 4.0 GPA.
For the rest of us with less super-human abilities, this would be a lifetime of accomplishment. However for Dr. Zurawski, it can only be assumed that this was the tip of the iceberg.
He was a member of the California Society of Anesthesiologists and served as speaker of this organization, was President of the North California Chapter of the American Medical Association, was a member of the AMA, the California Medical Association and the American Association of Anesthesiologists. He was an accredited parliamentarian by the American Institute of Parliamentarians, chaired numerous bi-laws and reference committees for these organizations and made numerous trips to Washington DC to lobby Congress and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on behalf of patient’s rights, doctors rights and the overall improvement of the healthcare system and access to it.
According to Dr. Alexander “Glenn never just ‘joined’ anything, he dove in and made a significant and memorable difference in everything and with everyone whom he touched. He was a change-maker and a leader and visionary at every turn. He helped too many patients to count and made new patient-care techniques and facilities available in every place he landed.”
This life-time of work – this vast wealth of knowledge, compassion and innovation made Dr. Zurawski a true leader, visionary and humanitarian. Throughout the letters of support for Dr. Zurawski’s nomination, a commonality in them all was that being in his presence was to experience something extraordinary. According to friend and classmate Liberty Supervisor Charlie Barbuti, “It was pretty amazing to be around someone who excelled in so many ways and was also a warm and friendly person. You would be proud to call him your friend.”
Additionally, his Lutheran faith and family were also incredibly important facets of this extraordinary man. Dr. Alexander writes: “Glenn was quietly grounded in all of his life’s work by his faith and his participation in the Lutheran church, although he was assiduous in his attention and needs of his patients on this score. Glenn’s thoughts never strayed far from his roots in New York – he loved his family and friends fiercely and brought what he learned at home to everything he did after leaving Liberty High School.”