Letters for Dr. Richard Sarkin "Richie"

This is where I will upload letters that fellow campers sent in. May the Sarkin family gain some support and warmth from these thoughts.
If you want to add your letter, then email it to me at rick.landman@nyu.edu

Richie Sarkin was killed last night when that commuter plane crashed outside of St. Louis. Apparently, all 13 who died were well-known pediatricians. Richie was a teacher upstate and well regarded within the medical community. He was a gentle big guy who had the ability to make you laugh in his self deprecating fashion. I would always look for his weekly e-mails that made me start today with a good laugh. Please send this out to the Ta-Ri-Go community.
John E Sherman MD FACS

To all who knew him, He was one of my life long friends eventhough we didn't keep in touch much lately.
We were bunk mates from 10-15 years old, waiters together, counselors together, we went out on dates together with his girlfriend Brenda and mine Liz. We went on days off together with Larry K. and Jeff Baker and we spent many happy days together in and out of camp. We were also color war Generals against each other once and I think CO Generals another time. We all miss those times of our youth especially when a tragedy of this nature hits us.
I for one am deeply saddened by the loss of my buddy Richie.
Neil Karman

Very sorry to hear this news. Despite med school and years of taking care of God-knows how many youngsters, he kept his terrific sense of humor we all first experienced back at Tarigo.
Howie Bailen

I can still remember how tall, tan and funny he was as a camper, and how good to know that he grew up to be such a giving, intelligent and loving man. We met again at the Reunion four years ago. My heart goes out to his entire family and especially to Jonathan who also went to our camp.
Rick Landman

Thinking about Richie and the sudden tragedy of his loss, brings to mind one of the expressions that, at least as a teenager, he made uniquely his own: "What can I say ......?" - with a shrug of the shoulders that was meant to convey that there are feelings that transcend mere words and he would not presume to attempt to so limit them. You just had to know some things, to understand, to get it. Richie got it. And there was so much about him that was unique, that belonged only to him.

As adults, life took us on our own, separate and busy paths; but old memories are strong ones and I am glad to have so many of Rich.

Ricky Landman is correct to remember how tall and tan he was. The elegant and accomplished athlete. The rapier wit and the inexhaustible supply of really funny observations. The love of the music and the poetry of the lyrics. We were all children of our time together, but Richie truly savored all of the things that were ours in particular. He was a romantic and a discoverer, seemingly unafraid and ready to partake of what life offered, and I think he understood very well that life was for living. There he was, driving in a convertible under a gorgeous blue summer sky on days off from camp; finding a way, along with a tableful of boisterous friends, to get served whiskey sours on Saturday nights at Kass' Inn; tearing across a basketball court. Being cool, very cool. A Color War general.

Are there adolescent boys like that anymore? I certainly hope so.

I'm glad I got to see him at the reunion and to meet his lovely family. I am glad that he fulfilled the enormous promise of his youth and earned the respect and love of his community.

My heartfelt condolences to his family for their loss.

Brenda Liebowitz

I was deeply saddened by the untimely passing of Richie Sarkin. I guess it is true that only the good die young. Richie was my senior and super senior counselor for both the 1968 & 1969 camping seasons. He was a very important part of the best times of my childhood. Richie was the greatest counselor for the best group of kids I have ever been associated with. Besides his incredible sense of humor he really knew how to have fun. Not many have or know how to share this wonderful gift. Richie made the totality of our camp experience far greater than the sum of it's parts. He was a leader, a big kid and goofball, intellectual, charming, athletic, sensitive, sentimental and caring. When I saw Richie at the reunion, Howie Bailen, Bruce Pomerantz, Jeff Koval, Richie and myself had a picture taken. As we posed he said, " These were my boys!". After over 30 years, I knew he still meant it. Richie was also my Color War General. He chose for our team alma mater, " Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying," by Johnny Mathis. As the tears stream down my face, I know the sun as well as the moon and stars are crying right along with me. I will never forget Richie Sarkin. My heart goes out to his family and friends.

Barry Schwartz 1967-1969

I am saddened by the news of the loss of our dear friend Dr Richard Sarkin. My deepest sympathy, and prayers, go out to his family. I am still in mourning over the loss of my dear wife, who passed away in April. I came to Tarigo in 1969.

Richie was my counselor. He took me under his wing and made me fall in love with camp. I can just see him with whistle in mouth refereeing one of his made up events, such as, electric football, or football in the mud. Neal was always at his side. As senior boy campers we were always laughing with him, and he made those moments with him, well, electric. I can just imagine how many lives he must have touched in a positive way. He certainly touched mine. The last day at camp in 69, was his last as a counselor. He was boarding the bus to go home with other New Jersey residents. The bus was parked in front of the main house. Everyone was there to say goodbye to him. He got on the bus, then got off. He called out to me to come to him. He gave me a reach out. I felt so good. When I saw him at the reuniion, I shared that story with him. He then said, "Well, then come here and let me give you another one". He then gave me a hug. Thank you my friend. I will miss you. love

Monty-Richard J Montanaro
I was shocked and dismayed to hear about Richie. I too must echo the sentiments of Neil ,Barry Howie and Monty. Richie Sarkin was my counselor during the best of my many years at camp. Richie and Neil, were major influences on my growing up in and out of camp. They knew how to laugh, have fun, and and how to find the strengths in all of us and helped us as teenagers to grow ...their love for each other and their influences rubbed off on each and every one of us. Neil and Richie's friendship was beautiful and I think most of would give anything to have a similar one.

I just pulled out my TARIGO photos there are photos of Richie and Neil all over the book. Seniors... remember the WAMA rock, the death walk and the floating trip down the Esopus? How about Richie's appreciation for music and poetry, "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying was played in our bunk daily and I always think of Richie everytime I hear it . I think you never reallly realize the extent of how people touch you until they have gone. I will never forget Richie.

Bruce Pomerantz
Tarigo Tears

Sark'll get it. Forget it, Sarkin'll do it. Hey Richie, how do you this? Richie, what's this mean? Sarkin, I can't do this - help me, Sark. Pick Sarkin, he's the right guy. Go Sarkin, go. Hey, way to go Richie.

It was early in the Vietnam days in the time of the draft. Saigon and Da Nang were new words to us just like Baghdad and Fallujah are new to us now. I so clearly remember Richie wondering about this war. Yesterday, at least one of us from camp would expatriate and never be heard from again. Today our friend from camp, not from war, but from our privileged and carefully structured Tarigo, our own utopia, brings us these tears and powerful memories. What Landman said is the most real, "Childhood friendships seem to carry throughout life, even if we don't really keep in touch."

Richie knew of childhood in ways that I did not. I was 3 years older and as a waterfront guy I was dropped into different bunks, one year with the waiters - with Zaretsky, Kleger, Karman, Sarkin and who else? There was a peace about Sarkin, a perspective that set him apart from the bunk. It's not enough to say that Richie was more mature than the other kids, including me. He instinctively knew more about the nature of the human experience than I did at the time, and perhaps even today. On a few winter breaks Richie and I ended up at the same hotel in Florida with our parents. We swam and sauna'd and laughed and ran on the beach. I remember seeing Richie in New York; he made my wife and me laugh so hard. Tarigo tears with you Jonathan, and with your family, and with Richie's close friends.
H. R. R.
I am stunned and saddened by Richie's death and my heart goes out to his family and friends. All the years I was at camp with Richie one thing never changed - he had a way of pulling you in and making you feel special because he had so much heart and he just couldn't resist. He could also be the counselor and the kid at the same time. So many of the funny, crazy times I remember from camp are signature Richie Sarkin. One in particular, as counselors with Neil Karman, Jeff Baker and Brenda Liebowitz on a day off and deciding to see his sister Janie who was at another camp, we drove all over the mountains with no directions for hours, actually got there and then couldn't see her because it wasn't Visiting Day! Picture the ride back to camp...

. Barbara Harris Klein
I was stunned when I read the paper that morning and saw that a good friend and a great man had been killed in a plane crash while on the way to talk to young physicians in training. So many thoughts flooded my mind, so many vivid memories.

As with all of you, I first met Rich Sarkin at Tarigo. I was a Kadet in 1966 and Rich was a cool waiter, a lefty softball pitcher, a basketball center, and a natural leader. When I was a senior in Bunk Q in 1969 ( the Lodge was oversubscribed that year!) Neil was my counselor and Rich was in the Lodge. WAMA!

However, I was more fortunate than most of you in that I met Rich years later, and I want you all to know how proud we can be of our guy--his contributions to medical students, residents and educators will reverberate for decades, and improve the care of patients whose physicians have been taught by Rich.

I think it was around 1997 when I was looking at an announcement of an upcoming teaching seminar in the hospital I worked at when I saw Rich Sarkins name for the first time in over 25 years. He was doing a workshop for the residents in the department of medicine on how to become better teachers--better teachers for their patients and better teachers to the interns and medical students under their charge. Now you know Rich; this was not going to be some tall humorless doc standing at a lectern! He had videotape clips from 5 movies which showed different methods of teaching ( ie the stern Harvard law professor from Paper Chase, Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller, the Karate Kid being shown how to prune a bonsai plant) and then went to work on the audience. He was electrifying-energizing the audience for 90 minutes and beng surrounded after the talk. For weeks later the residents talked about how this had made a difference in how they approached their work! ! , and their patient interactions

That night we began our friendship as we talked for hours about our Tarigo past, and our present lives. Since then it has been a pretty steady annual event for Rich to come to visit me and give a presentation to students, residents and trainees. He talked about teaching, about how to communicate with patients, about how to balance ones professional and personal lives. And whether it was with movies, or art, or rock n roll, he knew how to connect with his audience. He was always a star and the staff talked about him long after the event-I cannot tell you how many emails I received this week from people who were touched by seeing Rich only once at these yearly programs. I can only imagine the impact he has had upon his home community of Buffalo.

Every year the highlight of the visit was the time we sat and talked. Our last meal together was last year-he visited me in Brooklyn and we ate at the Parkside Restaurant in Corona, Queens; he LOVED NY Italian food. Rich was happy and at peace. He knew that he was contributing and making a difference and was secure in his present and in his future. As always, he talked much about his first love-his wife and kids. Even with his heavy career commitment, his life was structured around them and their lives-its not hard to imagine Rich as a beloved coach in the neighborhood. My biggest regret is that we never carried through on the annual promise-that we would get together as families. My daughter and son are the same age as his kids, and our values were so similar that we knew the families would hit it off. When we hugged to say goodbye, I am sure we both felt secure in knowing we would be seeing each other many times in the future.

I will miss Rich--as a friend, a teacher and a role model. However, like all of you, my life was blessed by our friendship.

Steve Walerstein

Tarigo 66-73
What a magnificent presence he possessed! Tall enough to tower over his campers and seemingly the sun and clouds, yet humble and down to earth enough to guide us through our years at Ta-Ri-Go. Yes, I too along with Howie B., Pomo, Monty, Barry Schwartz, Joel H. and others was among his flock during our Senior and Super Senior years of 1967, 1968 and 1969, and was it ever a blast. Keenly aware of the uniqueness of each camper, I can remember him bending WAY down, placing a hand on my shoulder and kindly and quietly pointing out the occasional error of my ways. Similarly, he was quick to laud me and my buddies for our accomplishments. The man absolutely loved us and cared...a true and intelligent leader.

Pomo mentioned the death walk which I remember as though it was just an hour ago...blindfolded and bound, we were led through what seemed to be an endless night of mock fear and terror. When the seeming agony finally ended and we were standing on the stage in the social hall and ordered to remove out blindfolds, there was Richie, the orchestrator of the event, standing and cheering for us along with the other campers and counselors, his ever-wide grin proudly and lovingly imprinted on his face. It was all in good fun. I think my wife and kids are oh-so-sick of hearing that story and others as well. Yet they still patiently listen because they know those were the best summers of my life, summers that played a great part in the development of the person I am today. Summers guided by Richie and his pals...

Much heartfelt love to Richie's wife and children...and to my old friend Jon and his family...

Jeff Koval

East Greenwich, Rhode Island 1964-1970
To All Tarigo-ites;

We were all shocked and saddened to hear the tragic news about Richie. He was a terrific guy and a great friend. Richie, Neil Karman, Jeff Baker and I had a very unique friendship and bond. We were campers together, waiters together, counsellors together, color war generals together and friends forever. I will never forget the days off the four of us spent together.

Richie always seemd to be the one who would orchestrate our wild adventures; getting us in and out of trouble on a regular basis. He was bright, witty and lit up every room he walked into.

I was fortunate enough to win All-around Camper in 1965. Richie would constantly rib me that, "The only reason you won was because I didn't go to camp that summer." Each time he said it I would act offended, but deep down inside I knew he was right.

Lawrence Kleger

Sarkin most enjoyed teaching other doctors By JAY REY News Staff Reporter 10/21/2004

Dr. Richard Sarkin's death in plane crash is confirmed.

The body of a local pediatrician was among those recovered from the wreckage of a commuter plane crash that killed 13 in Missouri. Dr. Richard T. Sarkin, 54, of Amherst, was a passenger on the plane, according to friends and colleagues. Spokesman for the airline said two people survived and initially they located eight bodies. The bodies of five passengers missing after the Tuesday crash were all recovered Wednesday, dashing hopes for more survivors.

Sarkin was on his way to teach, as he loved to do, when the commuter plane crashed Tuesday night in Kirksville, about 220 miles northwest of St. Louis.

Over the years, the Amherst pediatrician and University at Buffalo professor made a name for himself by teaching doctors how to teach and was scheduled to lecture at a symposium in Missouri when the plane went down, said Dr. Rick Morin, Sarkin's friend and colleague.

"He was very skilled at engaging the learner, and he could do that at the bedside or in an audience with 100 people," Morin said. "He was just an outstanding teacher. That really was his passion."

Family was the other. Sarkin and his wife, Marcia, have two children, Alex, 16, and Jessica, a freshman in college. Members of the family were unavailable to comment Wednesday.

Sarkin enjoyed playing soccer, basketball and golf. He had a pretty sarcastic wit, too, which also put him on the receiving end of friends' jokes, friends recalled.

For example, Sarkin, a former science teacher, had earned the nickname "Kohutek," after taking one of his classes out late one night to view the Comet Kohutek, which never appeared, Abbott said.

Besides serving as director of general pediatrics for newborn services at Women and Children's Hospital, Sarkin cared for children at the Hodge Street Clinic, said Morin, pediatrics chief at Children's.

In his earlier days, Sarkin was an elementary and middle school science teacher downstate before graduating from New York Medical College in 1977 and coming to Children's for his residency in pediatrics.

But Sarkin still desired to teach.

He got his chance at UB, where he had been on the faculty since 1981, most recently as a professor of pediatrics in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

When Sarkin was appointed director of pediatric medical student education at UB, he helped devise programs that taught doctors how to teach young medical students and medical students how to teach and communicate with their patients.

"I really disliked medical school, because so much was poorly taught," Sarkin said in a 1992 Buffalo News article. "I thought one of the contributions I could make to the medical profession was to help improve the teaching."

Amid the more traditional teaching theories, Sarkin used movie clips as one of his more unorthodox teaching methods.

Sarkin, a movie fan, would show young doctors teaching scenes from movies like "The Karate Kid," "Footloose" and "Star Wars." Not only would it grab their attention, but force them to think about new ways to teach.

Sarkin was right. The programs for UB pediatric residents and faculty caught on, and Sarkin soon was presenting his workshops at medical meetings and conventions across the United States and Europe.

He won teaching awards in 1986, '90, '91 and '93. And in 1998, he was a winner of a Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching.

"He and his program were nationally recognized so he was always being invited to give talks at other colleges and medical schools," Morin said. "He was going (to Missouri) to give one of his talks."

e-mail: jrey@buffnews.com

Hundreds Celebrate Life of Dr. Richard Sarkin

(October 24, 2004) - - Hundreds of people gathered Saturday to celebrate the life of an Amherst pediatrician. Dr. Richard Sarkin had a tremendous impact on the lives of people in Western New York and the country. His death last week in a plane crash has sent shock waves through his family and the medical community.

Those close to Dr. Richard Sarkin say that he would have been embarrased to see so many people gather to honor his life.

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery auditorium was filled beyond capacity, with another 300 watching a monitor in a separate room.

All of them somehow touched by a beloved pediatrician, father and friend.

Longtime friend Jack Coyne: "Why do, all too often, those of us who have vision, purpose and compassion seem to leave us early."

The 54 year old Amherst doctor was one of 13 people killed when a commuter plane crashed last Tuesday in Missouri.

This is the first time the public is hearing from the family.

Sarkin's two children, Jessica and Alex read their father's favorite poem. Jon Sarkin gave a powerful eulogy about his brother's treasure in life - his family.

Jon Sarkin: "He was always home early to spend time with his kids. I have never seen a parent with more love for his children than my brother...ever."

Sarkin's sister Jane Sarkin O'Connor: "But I will not accept that my brother is gone. I will not accept it because he is not gone. He can't be, he is just too strong a force."

Dr. Sarkin spent almost his entire medical career here at Women and Children's Hospital, 23 years - but his talents were also sought after on a national level, for his outstanding ability to teach.

At one point, the entire auditorium stood to applaud Dr. Sarkin, as a way to say thank you for all he did, and the legacy they hope to carry on.

A memorial fund has been established in Doctor Sarkin's memory.

Donations can be made to the Richard T. Sarkin Foundation for Medical Education, P.O. Box 1523, Amherst, New York 14226.
Tarigo Return to Tarigo Homepage........ Return to Group Photos

InfotrueReturn to Infotrue Homepage