PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Gary B. Witman, M.D., died unexpectedly on April 30. Born in New York and raised in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, he was the son of the late Seymour and Ruth (Malamud) Witman, and is survived by his wife Dee Dee (Zarum) Witman.
He was an Eagle Scout, a lover of sports, an avid traveller, and an accomplished skier on the U.S. Ski team.
A graduate of Rutgers University, Dr. Witman received his medical degree from SUNY Medical School, Downstate. He continued his training at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, followed by Brown University and then Yale – as the American Cancer Society scholar in medical oncology – and became a program director at the National Cancer Institute as the head of all 12 comprehensive cancer centers throughout North and South America.
During his accomplished career in oncology research and internal medicine, Gary never put aside his hands-on work treating patients whose lives were on the line. He ran several Boston area emergency rooms where he thrived in what he called “battlefield” conditions.
With an uncanny talent to counsel, comfort and diagnose, he demonstrated his great love for all around him with warmth, humor, confidence and a depth of great humanity. His was the first and second medical opinion of countless friends and relatives, and was regarded within the medical community as a “physician’s physician.”
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his three children, Samantha Witman Friedland, Zachary Witman, and Amanda Rose Witman Speiser; two sons-in-law, Michael Friedland and Brian Speiser; three grandchildren, Emmanuelle, Juliette and Hershel Friedland; and three brothers Leonard, Philip, and Michael.
As accomplished as he was in his younger life, his achievements paled in comparison to his last eight years, when he suffered a life-altering accident, rendering him a quadriplegic. Despite his injury, his brilliance and passion for others only grew stronger; he relished his expanding family, and continued to work as a full-time physician.
Contributions may be made to Temple Emanu-El, 99 Taft Ave., Providence, RI, and the United Spinal Association www.unitedspinal.org, in memory of Dr. Gary B. Witman.