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Lawrence Zaroff


1932 - 2015 Obituary Condolences
Lawrence Zaroff Obituary
Dr. Lawrence I. Zaroff

March 12, 1932 - April 20, 2015

The medical world lost a great innovator and teacher with the sudden passing of Lawrence I. Zaroff, MD, PhD. Beloved by his students at Stanford University, family, friends, and former patients, Larry Zaroff will be greatly missed.
Raised above his family's grocery store in Washington DC, Larry earned his M.D. from George Washington University in 1956 and received his training in the emerging field of cardiothoracic surgery under Dr. Dwight Harken at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. During his many years of surgical training, Dr. Zaroff was active in research, helping to pilot the use of the intra-aortic balloon pump, a life-saving device used to support patients critically ill from acute heart failure. Much of his research focused on the development of the implantable cardiac pacemaker.
After completing his training, Dr. Zaroff spent 29 years in cardiothoracic surgical practice in Rochester, NY, successfully performing coronary artery bypass and valve replacement surgeries on thousands of patients. During these years of practice, Dr. Zaroff mentored many cardiothoracic surgery trainees from the University of Rochester School of Medicine.
At the age of 53, Larry decided to retire from surgical practice and focus his considerable energy into his passion for mountaineering. He moved to Colorado and spent 9 years climbing the high peaks of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. His years of mountaineering culminated in a first ascent of Chulu West, a 22,000-foot peak on the Nepal-Tibet border.
At the end of his years in Colorado, Larry decided to pursue further academic studies. Working with his usual passion and drive, he received his Masters in English from the University of Colorado. After moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, Larry enrolled at Stanford University and earned his PhD in History in 2000, at age 68.
After earning his PhD, he was appointed a Senior Research Scholar with the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics and also a Consulting Professor in the Stanford Department of Anesthesiology and the Program in Human Biology. In this capacity, Larry thrived as a teacher and mentor to the undergraduates and medical students of Stanford. He taught many courses, including the core classes for Stanford Medical School's Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities scholarly concentration. Larry was the rare college teacher who used the Socratic method in his classes, demanding verbal participation from every student. His courses required many non-fiction and fiction writings from his students, and he truly enjoyed critiquing their work. His excellence as a teacher was recognized when he was voted Teacher of the Year by the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU).
Larry was completely devoted to his students at Stanford, spending countless hours mentoring and advising them. He was especially eager to support his students as they grappled with decisions about whether or not to pursue careers in Medicine. Recently, these efforts were acknowledged by his receipt of the Stanford Human Biology Award for Excellence in Faculty Advising.
While at Stanford, Larry also continued his scholarly activities, writing columns for the Science section of The New York Times and publishing numerous articles in Pharos, Pulse, Atrium, and The Hektoen International Journal.
Larry will be greatly missed by his wife of 60 years, artist Carolyn Rein Zaroff, their three children, Susan Z. Breyer of Woodside, CA, Dr. Wendy Z. Davis of Mill Valley, CA, and Dr. Jonathan G. Zaroff (Victoria) of San Francisco, CA. Larry leaves eight grandchildren - Emily, Daniel, and Theodore Breyer of Woodside; Jackson Davis of Mill Valley; Sam, Leo, Eliza, and Roxanne Zaroff of San Francisco.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the AXIS Dance Company of Oakland, CA at www.axisdance.org.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on May 3, 2015
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