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Howard J. Westney M.D.

Howard J. Westney, MD NiskayunaHoward Jay Doc Westney, MD, 85, died peacefully on October 25, 2012. Howard was a man of action in his family, his medical practice, and in the greater community. Howard was born in Atlantic City, March 26, 1927, the only child of Howard Westney Sr. and Mary Mirswa Westney in their home on Pacific Avenue (of Monopoly fame). After losing his father at age 12, he was embraced by Quaker Friends. He received much of the guidance that he needed from his school: The Westtown School, a Quaker School in Pennsylvania. They greatly influenced his life; Thenceforth he believed, and always acted, to contribute more than he asked for. Howard was at Westtown School on December 7, 1941: the 9/11 of his generation. He enlisted to serve in the Navy, where he was a corpsman: a medic attached to a Marine division. His service and training as a medic inspired him to provide remarkable leadership later in his adult life. After completing his undergraduate education at Dartmouth, he continued to New York Medical College where he met and married Grace Jorgensen, the love of his life. Together they finished medical school and he followed her back to Schenectady. He started his medical practice in Latham. As it grew, it became The Latham Medical Group. Some of Howard's most enduring friendships, and partnerships, were formed therein. Howard was satisfied that he did his best for his patients, without exception. There were many patients who he loved and treasured for the rest of his life. Howard and Grace started a family, and have nurtured their family ever since. Howard's own father had died in 1939 and Howard strove to be the father that he had wanted. To the end, he took care of his family and worked to be a wonderful father. As a young doc in Latham, Howard despaired when he saw how medical emergencies were handled. Ambulance drivers would go to grab a patient and drive breakneck to the hospital, where the first medical care would be administered. Often the patient died enroute. This was not good enough for the community that he had adopted as his own. He did not wait for someone to do something about it. He took it upon himself to train firemen, ambulance drivers, and anyone who would learn. The first responder was born. Howard's long career of (volunteer) service to this community continued as he collaborated and cooperated with people in the Town of Colonie, fire and police departments, in an expanding circle. Howard began collaborating with like-minded people from around the country who developed training programs, wrote curricula, rallied political support, and wrote TV shows (Jim Page). They were a thousand points of light that, by today, have lit the whole country and beyond. The paramedic was born. Howard never sought confrontation, but he did everything necessary to overcome obstacles to progress. For example, in order for paramedics to function, the emergency room doctors had to provide orders by radio. When emergency rooms were unwilling to do so, Howard said, Fine. I'll provide the orders (as a volunteer), and we'll take the patients to a different emergency room. He supervised thousands of emergency calls from his office, from his car, and from his home. He roped his younger medical partners in to doing the same. He did this for several years, until all emergency rooms were dragged in to the modern era. Agencies that should have helped often got in the way. Howard persevered. Howard treasured many lifelong friendships among the people who worked to bring modern emergency medical services to the greater capital region. We must remember the undying, unequivocal support that Howard gave to his beloved wife, Dr. Grace Jorgensen and her life's mission to improve healthcare for women. May of 2013 would have been their 60th wedding anniversary. Howard and Grace were committed to each other without reservation. They were a dynamic team at home and out in the community. They climbed mountains together and survived many hardships. They endured the tragic death of their beloved daughter, Diana with multiple sclerosis. Survivors now celebrating his remarkable life include his wife, Grace Jorgensen Westney; daughter, Dr. Clarissa Westney (Christopher Nadherny); and grandsons, Weston and Matthew Nadherny; son, John Westney, his wife, Dr. Susan Moore Westney; and granddaughter, Anna Grace. To keep his sanity, Howard loved working with his hands. The family would retreat to a farm in rural Vermont, where they lovingly restored their 18th century farmhouse. He loved woodworking, caring for the land, or creating a landscape. Doc Westney enjoyed time with his Vermont friends. On October 25, with his beloved wife and both children at his bedside, Howard gave his last. He is at peace. Friends are invited to visit with the family of Dr. Howard Westney on Sunday, October 28, 2012 from 3 until 6 p.m. at the Bowen & Parker Bros. Funeral Home, 97 Old Loudon Road in Latham. A memorial service, to which all are invited, will be held on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 4 p.m. in the Niskayuna Reformed Church, 3041 Troy-Schenectady Road, Niskayuna, NY. For further service information and directions, please visit the funeral home website at www.bowenandparkerbros.com
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Published in The Daily Gazette Co. from Oct. 27 to Oct. 28, 2012
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