Samuel Aronson

Samuel Byron Aronson

Sam Aronson died at home on July 7, 2013 at the age of 84. He was a proud native of Pittsburgh, PA, where he was born on April 10, 1929, and an enthusiastic 55-year San Francisco resident, who will be remembered by family and friends for his remarkable mind, offbeat sense of humor, sage advice and quiet kindness.

A man of eclectic interests, he studied philosophy at Yale, politics at Oxford, and medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. Along the way, he spent a summer working in a Pittsburgh steel mill, acquired a credible English accent (thankfully later lost) and wrote the first senior class play at Pitt medical school, a tradition which continues today.

After medical school, he served in the Public Health Service at the National Institutes of Health before moving west to complete a residency in ophthalmology at UCSF. Almost immediately after arriving in California he met Mary Ann Goldman and showed his character by asking her out again after she handily beat him in tennis on their second date (and she wasn't even very good). They married the next year and following sojourns in San Jose and a fellowship year in Paris, they returned to San Francisco where their daughters were born and he established his clinical research laboratory at San Francisco General Hospital. He was an early advocate for use of steroids to treat eye diseases, the author of many papers and a seminal textbook on ocular inflammation, and a consultant on ocular drugs and devices. After retirement, he invented his own art form using natural objects, pieces of which hang in homes across the country.

Sam remembered almost everything and on the rare occasions when he didn't know something, he invented credible, charming facts and tales that instantly became part of family lore. He was a great reader, hiker, world traveler and Asian food enthusiast.

He is survived by Mary Ann, his wife of 54 years, daughter Louise, daughter-in-law Jane Langridge, and daughter Margot, as well as nieces Joy Gray, Susan Aaron, Judy Penner, and Barbara Rosston, nephew Lee Marks, sister- and brother-in-law Barbara and Marcus Aaron, and many cousins and friends.

Gifts in memory of Sam may be sent to the California Academy of Sciences or the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

Published in San Francisco Chronicle on July 14, 2013