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Paul David Muchnic


1941 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Paul David Muchnic Obituary
January 7, 1941 - September 24, 2016 Paul David Muchnic, a highly accomplished orthopedic surgeon with a passion for problem-solving, a quirky sense of humor and a heart of gold, died September 24 in Los Angeles. He was 75. He improved the lives of hundreds of patients during his long career at Kaiser Permanente Hospital, West Los Angeles and helped many other people as an orthopedic volunteer at home and abroad. When his own health began to fail more than a decade ago, he cheerfully coped with a series of spinal afflictions, making creative use of his mechanical skills to remain self-sufficient. But the good doctor, who never smoked, was no match for the lung cancer that metastasized to his brain and eventually took his life. A native of Los Angeles, Paul and his sister, Linda Muchnic Polesky, were the children of orthodontist Herbert V. Muchnic and social worker Mildred Smill Muchnic. An innovative thinker who loved to figure out how things work, Paul graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1958 after distinguishing himself as a track star. He moved on to Pomona College in Claremont, where he prepared for medical school, joined the track team as a quarter-miler and graduated in 1962. As a college freshman, he also met his future wife, Suzanne Ely Muchnic, a student at nearby Scripps College who became an art writer at the Los Angeles Times and author of art books, including a recently published history of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. They were married in 1963. Paul became Dr. Paul D. Muchnic in 1966, when he received his MD degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Back in Los Angeles, he completed a rotating internship at UCLA and an orthopedic residency at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Two years of military service (1971-73) took him to Utah, where he learned to ski and joined the local ski patrol while running the orthopedic department of the hospital at Hill Air Force Base. In 1973, with his professional training and military obligation behind him, he went into private orthopedic practice in Los Angeles for two years, followed by three years as assistant chief of orthopedic surgery at Valley Medical Center in Fresno, a full-time teaching position. Upon his final return to his hometown, in 1978, he found his professional home at Kaiser Permanente Hospital, West Los Angeles. Chief of orthopedic surgery for 13 of his 21 years there, he specialized in hip and knee replacement surgery, amputation surgery and rehabilitation. As a medical volunteer, Paul was the attending physician in charge of the amputee clinic at Harbor-UCLA for three decades. He and Suzanne traveled widely throughout their careers, but after his retirement from Kaiser, in 1999, he devoted considerable time and energy to volunteer work in distant places. In 2001 he made the first of several trips to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where he contributed to a teaching program for local physicians-in-training, under the auspices of Orthopaedics Overseas. In 2003 he participated in a similar program in Lima, Peru. An inveterate fix-it man, Paul loved to tinker in his workshop, designing and building something new or making broken things right. Also a car aficionado, he was a volunteer docent at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Paul is survived by his wife and a circle of loving friends and family members. Donations in his honor may be sent to Orthopaedics Overseas, Charity DBA: Health Volunteers Overseas, 1900 L Street NW, Suite 310, Washington, DC 20036.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Sept. 29 to Oct. 2, 2016
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