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Dr. William H. Hetznecker III

Dr. William H. Hetznecker III Obituary
Dr. William H. Hetznecker III, 79, of Malvern, a child psychiatrist, died on Friday, April 1, 2011, of pneumonia following an earlier diagnosis of congestive heart failure at the Broomall Presbyterian Village in Broomall, Pa. Dr. "Bill" Hetznecker spent most of career treating disadvantaged children as a physician at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. Bill was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1931 and grew up in Evanston Ill. Dr. Hetznecker was educated in the archdiocese of Chicago, graduating from St. George's High School. He played football in high school and was a star running back with St. George's football team. After graduating at the top of his class, he entered St. Louis University in St. Louis Missouri. In 1956, Bill completed a six year combined program with Loyola University in Chicago Ill., receiving both his B.S. and his M.D. In July 1957, Bill married Noreen Ryan after a six year courtship, and shortly after their wedding they headed off to Red Lake Minnesota as Bill was assigned to work on a Native American reservation through the United States Public Health Service. After two years at Red Lake, Dr. Hetznecker continued his work in the Public Health Service in Washington, D.C., completing a Masters in Radiation Biology. Bill finished his residency in Psychiatry at the University of Rochester, Strong Memorial Hospital in 1964, and completed a Fellowship in Child Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md. in 1966. In 1967, Dr. Hetznecker and Noreen, along with their five children, moved to Merion Station as he accepted an offer from Temple University Medical School to teach in their clinical program at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children. Bill was a pioneer in community mental health, devoting his professional life to the treatment of mentally ill children from disadvantaged backgrounds. From 1967 until 1987, Dr. Hetznecker was an attending Psychiatrist at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children. In 1976, he became a Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at Temple University Medical School, having provided clinical training to hundreds of young doctors. According to one former student, Dr. Hetznecker was the consummate "doctor's doctor." Throughout his career Dr. Hetznecker emphasized the importance of the personal needs of patients as an integral part of physician training. He believed very strongly that the best physicians should develop compassion for the suffering of their patients. In 1974, Dr. Hetznecker co-wrote "On Behalf of Children," a survey of the problems and progress of community child psychiatry in the United States. In 1987, Dr. Hetznecker retired from St. Christopher's to become Vice President of Clinical Affairs for TAO, Inc., a managed care company specializing in mental health and chemical dependency. In addition to his work as a clinician, Dr. Hetznecker worked for thirty years as a consultant to various institutions, including the School Districts of Philadelphia, Upper Darby and Lower Merion. Board certified in both general and child psychiatry, for the better part of two decades, Dr. Hetznecker was himself a board examiner for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology as well as Child Psychiatry. Dr. Hetznecker was a participant in many committees and associations related to psychiatry, including the Committee on Mental Health Service to Ethnic Minorities and the Poor, of the National Association of Mental Health and the Task Force on School Consultation of the American Psychiatric Association. In 1998, Dr. Hetznecker decided to retire and devote himself fulltime to his second passion, poetry which he began writing in 1950. Known only as "Bill" to his fellow poets, he went on to publish work in the American Poetry Newsletter, the Philadelphia Poetry Journal, the Literary Forum Anthology and the Blue Satellite, among others. Bill was a member of the American Physicians Poetry Association and the Mad Poets Society, a Philadelphia area poetry group. Bill often read at various Philadelphia poetry events including Tyme Gallery, his favorite reading venue. In announcing Bill's death, Tyme Gallery stated that, "had a true understanding of the human spirit." Bill thrived on the life of the mind as he loved reading and writing poetry, as well as listening to classical and jazz music. In October 2008, several months after celebrating their 51st wedding anniversary, his wife Noreen passed away. Earlier this year he was diagnosed with end-stage congestive heart failure. He began to decline after Noreen's death. They weren't meant to be apart. He truly died of a broken heart. Dr. Hetznecker is survived by his five children, Matthew, Paul, Sarah, Dan and James, as well as nine grandchildren. Friends may pay their respects to the family. A visitation was held on Tuesday, April, 5, 2011, from 7-9 p.m., at Stretch Funeral Home, 236 East Eagle Road, Havertown Pa. 19083 and Wednesday, April 6, 2011, from 8:30-10 a.m. The funeral mass was held at St. Margaret's Church, 208 North Narberth Avenue, Narberth, Pa. 19072 at 10:30 a.m. Donations in the name of Dr. William Hetznecker may be made to the Elephant Listening Project, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, New York 14850.

Published in Main Line Media News on Apr. 6, 2011
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