DEBEMBER 17, 1936 – May 14, 2021
Peter Anthony Volpe was born in Columbus, Ohio on December 17, 1936. He was an enterprising boy who would make money mowing lawns, then travel by streetcar from his hometown of Worthington to downtown Columbus, where he would spend his earnings on toy trains at the popular Lazarus department store. He followed his father into a medical career, completing his pre-med studies and medical school at Ohio State University. After an internship in Milwaukee, Dr Volpe was drafted into the Navy. He was a General Medical Officer, serving aboard the Admiral’s flagship during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Dr. Volpe did his residency in general surgery at UCSF, under Dr. Dunphy, and also spent one year of the residency in London. Dr. Blaisdell, a mentor and lifelong friend, recognized Peter’s admirable judgment, calling him “one of the best men we have trained.” He served an apprenticeship in colorectal surgery with the founders of a practice he later joined and managed for many years. A partner described him as having “built the practice on the basic principles of always putting the patients’ well-being first, being inclusive, being a good listener, and with compassion and humility.” Patient care was Dr. Volpe’s top concern, but he also offered his keen judgment and administrative skills to running the surgical partnership. He served on the board of governors of the American College of Surgeons, and as president of both the
American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgeons and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. Peter was treasured by his patients, who continued to correspond with him long into his retirement. One patient wrote him in gratitude for “the good care you provided when I needed it and, in a far broader and more important sense, for having mastered your profession so splendidly and for having brought your highly developed skills to bear on behalf of so many for so long.” Dr. Volpe enjoyed a happy retirement playing golf, playing poker, tending his spectacular garden, and developing his incredible model railroad layout, a lifelong pursuit. His passion for the Ohio State University and their athletic teams was ferocious.
The world will be a poorer place without Dr. Volpe’s humor, his calm presence, and his good judgment. He will be missed by all.
Adapted from the article published by San Francisco Chronicle from May 21 to May 23, 2021.