Remembering Rumson’s ‘Dr. Harry’ Swartz

He was known as a dedicated, skilled physician to generations of families. He was known as a beacon of wisdom, charm, compassion and humor. He was known as a devoted husband and dad. He was longtime Rumson resident Dr. Harry Mason Swartz, “Dr. Harry” to most; and he passed away on Dec. 27 at 88.

The news of Dr. Harry’s death prompted a flood of messages of thanks and tribute on social media, his obituary and talk around the towns and at his funeral. The community conversations told the story of a man who knew his purpose in life and embraced it with a 24-carat sparkle, laugh and commitment to care. While his stellar professional reputation made him an unwitting shining star, Dr. Harry’s legacy was more about the star’s unique twinkle.

Making the world a better place one giggle, waiting room experience and diagnosis at a time, Dr. Harry is remembered as someone who just plain cared to cure many ills. An extraordinary man with heart, above all. One of the good guys. “His smiling face will be forever etched in my heart,” said Tara Corcoran-Clark on his tribute page. “A modern day saint, the world is a better place because he lived.”

His daughter, Addie, a 1978 RFH graduate, summed up the sentiments of the many others who wrote about Dr. Harry with her own tribute:

“My father dedicated his life to helping others. He was a true legend. 

“His compassionate heart, deep knowledge & experience, his unwavering commitment to his profession, and his 6th sense will live on in the many generations of families he touched. 

“Thank you, Dad, for the exemplary role model you provided for your children & grandchildren to emulate. You lived a life of purpose, meaning and impact, and used every ounce of your expertise, humor & grace to positively impact all those around you. 

“I love you Dad. Thanks for doing so much for me and for all of us.” 

Addie Swartz

And the respect was mutual. Dr. Harry was filled with pride in his family. It was also his passion. He was “the devoted husband to Renee for 65 years, and a cherished role model of living a life with love and purpose to his three children and their families,” his family said in his obituary.

“His dedication to his vocation was only surpassed by his pride in his family,” said Janet Porter in a tribute message. “He will be missed by so many.”

Dr. Harry’s career was an esteemed one, as was affirmed over and over again through the years.

Some stand-out facts about it …

Dr. Harry was born in Atlantic Highlands. He graduated as valedictorian of his class at Middletown High School. He graduated at the top of his class from both Ursinus College and Thomas Jefferson Medical School and was inducted into the prestigious AOA medical honors society.

He completed his residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. He later served as a major in the New Jersey National Guard.

Dr. Harry practiced medicine and cared for many in Monmouth County for 59 years. He delivered babies in the earliest years; and, later, he ran his own practice where he was a physician for up to five generations of families.

Practicing medicine his Middletown office and at Riverview Medical Center until he retired at 85, Dr. Harry worked with his son, known as Dr. Steve, from 1987 until retirement. Dr. Harry and Dr. Steve are the only father and son to each have been awarded the prestigious Physician of the Year Award by Riverview Medical Center.

“He set the bar high for Physicians and I have yet to find one who reaches it,” said Kristine Martin in a tribute comment. “His ‘Where the hell am I? Can I get some help in here?’ when you thought you were going to be left in the treatment room long after dark when everyone had gone home. But when he came into the room to treat you, he was all yours. He was the first doctor to get one of my diagnoses correct long before my diagnosis was ‘popular’ and when I was hospitalized for it every year he was there every day to see me.”

The unique brand of warmth and humor that was Dr. Harry’s medicine was also what put the twinkle in his shining star status. “Heaven gained a new angel today and I am sure he is making all the angels laugh,” said Mary Beth Clark Virostek in a tribute message.

Friend and patient Ann Connors encapsulated it with a story:

“Thank you for all your compassionate and wise care over the years, always touched with a bit of humor when we were feeling our worse. My Dad had been sick and had some lab tests done prior to his visit with Dr. Swartz. On the day of the visit he was in the waiting room, which any patient of Dr. Harry’s know was always full. Waiting his turn, Dr. Harry stuck his head out and said, ‘Frank we got your tests back. You know those 11 kids you have? They’re not yours.” OMG. My father, sick as he was, replied, “Now you tell me!” This was classic Dr. Harry humor. As your Rabbi said at your service, when you left this earth, it was the end of an ERA in healthcare, he nailed it. Condolences to his family, how blessed you all were to have him as husband father, and grandfather, how blessed we were to call him our family doctor.”

Dr. Harry Swartz is survived by: his wife Renee Swartz; their children, Stephen Swartz, M.D. and his wife, Annie Swartz, of Little Silver, Addie Swartz, and her husband Joel Rosen, of Concord, MA, and Sidney Swartz, M.D. and his wife Gloria Garcia, M.D., Stuart, FL; and five grandchildren, Eliana, Jordan, Jacob, Aliza and Chloe.

A funeral was held on Dec. 29 at Congregation B’Nai Israel, Rumson. Interment followed at B’nai Israel Cemetery, Tinton Falls. To share a favorite memory or messages of condolence, you may visit his page of tributes at www.woolleyboglioli.com.

RIP, Dr. Harry. You are remembered. Sincere condolences to family, patients and friends.

John Caroli
BCS Wealth Management