By John Burton |
MIDDLETOWN — Affection and appreciation were the prescriptions as generations of patients, friends and family offered their gratitude and kind words for a long life spent in medicine.
At the party, held at the Middletown Arts Center on Friday, Aug. 4, Harry M. Swartz, M.D. celebrated his retirement after a 58-year career in medicine. Generations of his patients – including this reporter – were on hand, joining Swartz and his family, friends and others to acknowledge the years of service.
“I love him. He’s a great doctor,” said Ida Fairlie, a 92-year-old Atlantic Highlands resident, who has counted Swartz as her primary physician for more than 50 years. “My whole family went to see him,” she said. At times, family members were too ill visit Swartz’ office. “When they couldn’t get there,” Fairlie recalled, “he’d come over.”
Swartz, 86, lives in Rumson, and as of the end of May stepped back from his family practice, which he conducted at 138 Cherry Tree Farm Road, in the township. During his decades in practice he said he’s seen children grow up, have their own families he’s treated and always feeling very much part of their lives. Along with his busy practice, Swartz for many years served as the official physician for Middletown Township and for the Middletown Police Department, he said.
Swartz acknowledged it was a bittersweet day seeing so many familiar faces from so many years, offering their well wishes and good cheer after in many cases caring for them. “It is wonderful to see everyone and I feel wonderful,” he said.
For approximately the last 30 years Swartz has partnered with his son, Stephen J. Swartz, M.D., sharing responsibilities for the practice.
“How can you describe being so close?” Stephen questioned. During their three decades working alongside each other, “spending our days together, eating together,” he had developed similar traits. “We think alike, manage patients alike,” he said. And most importantly, he concluded, “What Dad has done is make patients family.”
Stephen, a Little Silver resident who also serves as medical director of CareOne at King James rehabilitation facility, Atlantic Highlands, will be continuing with the practice. However, he is planning on moving it to a new location. The new site has yet to be determined but will be in Middletown.
“They’re great doctors, both of them,” said Bob Eckert. Eckert, a patient some 40 years ago, served as Middletown’s mayor 1978-79 and served on the Township Committee from 1975-81. He now lives in Berkeley Township in Ocean County but continued to rely on Drs. Swartz for his medical treatment. What made the elder Swartz such a great physician, Eckert said, is “I think he is very caring,” as well as his medical skill. “He could diagnose you right away,” Eckert recalled with a snap of his fingers. “He’s very accomplished.”
What marked Swartz’s time treating patients is “his compassion, his caring,” Fairlie said.
“He always gives his patients respect,” Stephen added.
“He always has time for you,” added Christine Goetz, Middletown. Goetz has been a longtime patient, who said her husband had died a few months ago and Swartz provided so much comfort to her as she was grieving. “He got me out of the house,” Goetz said of the doctor. “That’s Dr. Harry for you,” she said.
“The one thing I learned from him is humility,” said Sidney Swartz, M.D., Harry’s son who is a Florida anesthesiologist.
“Other than being a great physician, that’s probably the most important thing I learned from Dad,” Sidney continued, “the way he treats people…You really are supposed to help people and he always did that.”
So far retirement is good, Harry said. “I get up a little later in the morning now,” he said. “You know, people say you get bored in retirement. Not me. There’s plenty to do.”
Harry’s wife, Renee Swartz, said he’s been spending his time taking up gardening and Harry acknowledged he’s been enjoying going to the beach. Renee is chairwoman for the Monmouth County Library Commission, where’s she’s been active for many years, and plans to continue. She suspects her husband will find things to keep him active. “Oh, I’ll keep him busy,” she said.
Monmouth County Freeholder Director Lillian Burry offered a county proclamation naming Aug. 4, 2017 as Dr. Harry M. Swartz Day.
This article was first published in the August 10-17, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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