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Charles Warren Libbey M.D.

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Charles Warren Libbey, MD

Charles Warren Libbey, M.D., born on April 12, 1913, died at his Oakland residence on April 2, 2013, 10 days short of his 100th birthday.

He was known as Warren to his family, Charlie to his fellow physicians, and Dr. Libbey to the hundreds of patients he served as a family physician and surgeon on Oakland's "Pill Hill" for 33 years.

He was the third child born in San Francisco to Joseph Harrison and Clarice Libbey, who moved to Berkeley a year later to find more space for their burgeoning family. At age 13 months, he contracted polio, a scourge of those times, but was fortunate that his family's doctor prescribed daily physical exercise, rather than the common practice of immobilizing limbs.

As a result, even though his mobility was affected by a diminished leg, he grew up as an active boy and man. He attended Berkeley schools, including LeConte Elementary, Garfield Junior High and Berkeley High, where he was a member of the boy's basketball team. Like his three siblings, he attended U.C. Berkeley, graduating in 1936 and becoming a lifelong fan of the Golden Bears. Inspired by his older brother, a medical student, he was accepted at Georgetown University medical school in Washington, D.C.

After graduation from Georgetown in 1941, he returned to Oakland for his internship and residency at Highland Hospital. It was during this time that he met and fell in love with Olive Lowe, a Registered Nurse, who became his wife in 1942. This was at the outbreak of World War II, and since he was ineligible for the military, he became a physician at the Kaiser Industries shipyard in Vancouver, Wash.

In 1945, he and Olive returned to Oakland, where he started his private practice and they began a lifelong association with St. Leo's Catholic Parish. His medical career spanned the gamut of what a "general practitioner" did in those days - he delivered more than a thousand babies, performed more than a thousand major surgeries and made more than a thousand house calls. In 1953-54, he served a term as Chief of the Medical Staff at Providence Hospital.

In 1970, with the increasing specialization of the times, he earned a specialty in family practice, becoming the first general practitioner in Oakland to do so. In 1978, he retired from private practice and was hired by the state to evaluate worker compensation claims. He completed that work in 1988.

He is survived by Olive, his wife of 70 years, and three children: Michael (Laura), Lynn McCrory (John), and Thomas (Jessica); by five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at the chapel of Holy Angels Funeral Center, 1051 Harder Road, Hayward, on Saturday (April 13) at 11 a.m., with burial to follow at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Apr. 12, 2013
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