Obituary of Ronald Charles Fuerstner
Ronald Charles Fuerstner, M.D. (Ron) passed away peacefully surrounded by his family at home having gracefully navigated the challenges of Parkinson's Disease and cancer at the end of a life well-lived. Dr. Fuerstner was cherished by his family, but also by so many others whose children he brought into the world, lives he saved, or otherwise touched. He was loved by his patients, and respected by his colleagues for his exceptional clinical skills, his quiet leadership, and his outstanding medical ethics, integrity, and selflessness.
Dr. Fuerstner was born with his twin sister Fiona in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil but moved to San Francisco as an infant, where he made lifelong friends and graduated from Lowell High School in 1953. He earned his B.A from Dartmouth College in 1957, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Basel, in Switzerland in 1964, where he met his beloved Brigitte.
Upon graduation, he and Brigitte returned to the United States, where he completed his internship at Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland, Oregon and then joined the U.S. Navy, serving as a medical officer on a hospital ship and troop transport during the Vietnam War (while Brigitte cared for their two baby girls who were 13 months apart). After the war, he completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford University, launching his private practice and joining the staff at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula (CHOMP) in 1972. The following year, his son Philip was born at CHOMP, and he practiced here for 43 years, finally retiring in 2015 at the age of 79. No one in the family could go far on this Peninsula without meeting a patient / former patient / nurse or colleague who loved him. In fact, before we could organize his retirement party, his wonderful patients did it for us, celebrating the many years of care, the deep listening, and the family calendars he had shared with them.
Dr. Fuerstner was honored as Physician of the Year by the Monterey County Medical Society (2004), received the medical staff’s Physician Recognition award (2001), and was CHOMP Chief of Staff (1985-86).
He also taught his family the value of community leadership, always stepping up to help his community and patients. He served on the boards of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, CHOMP, the Monterey County Medical Society, and on the Monterey County Delegation to the California Medical Society for many years. He also served 20 years on the medical society’s Medical Review and Advisory Committee, represented Peninsula-based specialists on the board of the Central Coast Alliance for Health (which he was instrumental in founding), and was a member of the Monterey County Medical Trust Fund Distribution Committee, which provides scholarships to local nursing and medical students. He used his advocacy skills to fight state regulations he felt harmed his patients (such as the effort in 1977 to require a 14 day waiting period for sterilization) and to stand up for women’s health.
Dr. Fuerstner is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Brigitte, and their three children: Bernadette Fuerstner Casey (Keith), Stephanie Fuerstner Gillis (Jim), and Philip Fuerstner (Juliane), as well as his sister Fiona Fuerstner, and his seven grandchildren Kaitlin, Nicholas and Allison Casey, Neil and Todd Gillis, and Liam and Jonah Fuerstner.
The family is exceptionally grateful to the professional angels who cared for him with us at the end of life, including all of those at Hospice of the Central Coast, the physicians, and all who supported us during these difficult weeks.
Those wishing to make a contribution in his memory can direct support to Hospice of the Central Coast, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, or CHOMP.
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