Classnotes - 1950s

In Memoriam

Dr. Gicewicz.

Edmond J. Gicewicz, MD ’56

—Physician, athlete, generous donor 

Edmond J. Gicewicz, MD ’56, one of UB’s most loyal supporters died on March 28. He was 89.

Gicewicz—affectionately known as “Doc”—was a three-sport athlete at UB, a longtime member of the UB Council and a past president of the UB Alumni Association. For nearly three decades, he served as the UB football team physician. 

A 1952 graduate of UB, Gicewicz was a standout football, basketball and baseball player for the Bulls. He went on to earn a medical degree from UB in 1956 and served as the football team physician for 27 years. He was elected to the UB Athletics Hall of Fame in 1966 and the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.

Among his many leadership roles at UB, Gicewicz was president of the UB Medical Alumni Association and founder and first medical director of the University Sports Medicine Institute, which continues to thrive today. 

He held appointments as an assistant professor of clinical surgery and an assistant professor of clinical orthopaedics in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. He was honored by his alma mater with the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1977, the prestigious Samuel P. Capen Chancellor’s Award in 1978 and the UB President’s Medal in 2013.

The Gicewicz family has remained generous supporters of the Bulls’ athletic programs. In 2007, the UB Athletics Hall of Fame was renamed the Dr. and Mrs. Edmond J. Gicewicz Family UB Athletics Hall of Fame. In 2015, the new state-of-the-art club seating section at UB Stadium was named the Edmond J. Gicewicz Club. 

Gicewicz is survived by his wife, Connie; their five children, Suzanne, Julie, Alicia, E. Richard and Gregory; and 11 grandchildren.

Dr. Volkman.

Alvin Volkman, MD ’51

—Academic physician-leader, distinguished pathologist

Alvin Volkman, MD ’51, died peacefully at his home in Greenville, N.C., on April 11, 2018, surrounded by family. He was 91.

A native of  Brooklyn, N.Y., Volkman received a B.S. degree from Union College in 1947. After earning his medical degree at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in 1951, he served his residency at Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve University), after which he completed a D.Phil. at the University of Oxford, England, in 1963.

Volkman moved to Greenville, N.C, in 1977 to help establish East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine, where he served as professor of pathology. From 1989 to 1995 he held the position of associate dean for research and graduate studies at the school and took great pleasure in selecting the next generation of doctors and scientists. In addition, he served as a medical examiner at Pitt County Memorial Hospital. He earned the honor of professor emeritus upon his retirement.

Volkman’s distinguished medical career included a research fellowship at Western Reserve University School of Medicine and residency at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston, Mass. He was an assistant professor of pathology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, 1960-1966 and an associate member at the Trudeau Institute, Saranac Lake, N.Y., 1966-1977.

His most notable scientific work provided a fundamental understanding of a major aspect of how our immune system works by proving that monocytes (white blood cells) originate in the bone marrow.

Volkman was a veteran of the Korean War. As a lieutenant, he served as ship’s doctor for a destroyer group in the U.S. Naval Reserve, 1954-1956.

He had a passion for the arts, a love of the outdoors, and was an avid fisherman. The Outer Banks was a favorite retreat for him to connect with the ocean as well as his cherished friends and family.

He was preceded in death by his brother, Jerome, and his wives, Winifred Joan and Carol.

He is survived by his wife, Suzanne; six children, Karl Fredrick, Xiamen, China; Nicholas (Virginia), Sedona, Ariz.; Rebecca (Michael) Evans, Granville, Ohio; Gretchen (Jamie) Werrell, Rock Hill, SC; Deborah (David) Falls, Belfast, ME; Natalie, New York, NY; one stepson, Jeffrey (Sonya) Moore, Westfield, NJ; 14 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.

Ronald E. Batt.

Ronald E. Batt, MD ’58, PhD  

—Professor of obstetrics and gynecology and historian

Ronald E. Batt, MD ’58, PhD, a professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology died at home on April 25 after a brief illness. He was 83.

A native of Buffalo, Batt graduated from UB medical school in 1958 and completed residencies and fellowships at Buffalo hospitals, Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic.

Batt was in private practice in Buffalo from 1970 to 1990, and in 1995 he joined the medical school’s faculty. He was known internationally for his work on endometriosis and its pathophysiology and for developing his theory of developmental müllerian diseases, or müllerianosis.

After retiring from clinical practice, Batt pursued an interest in history and completed a PhD in the subject in 2009. His thesis research became the seminal book, The History of Endometriosis, which was published in 2013. At the time of his death, Batt was working on the second volume of this book.

Batt was an American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Ortho-McNeil fellow in the History of American Obstetrics and Gynecology (2004), was recognized by UB with the Medical Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award (1998) and in 2015, received the prestigious Harry Reich Award for Pioneering Work in the Science and Treatment of Endometriosis from the Endometriosis Foundation of America.

Batt was a fixture at grand rounds and faculty meetings, always willing to share his historical perspective and kind encouragement.

He is survived by his wife, Kathleen; his children: Paula Wilson, Douglas Batt, Thomas Batt, Neil Batt, Jennifer Michalski, and John Batt; and step-children: William Cansdale, James Cansdale, Suzanne Gill, Timothy Cansdale, John Cansdale and Mark Cansdale.

Fred Lee.

Fred Lee, MD ’56, died on January 15, 2016 at the age of 85.

A native of Buffalo, Lee was one of seven children born to parents who were immigrants from China. During medical school, Lee met his future wife, Ethel. After dating for several years, the couple eloped to Maryland, where they were confronted with laws designed to prevent mixed-race marriages.

After medical school, Lee took a surgery internship at the University of Chicago, followed by a radiology residency at Harvard University’s Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. Upon completion of his residency, Lee was drafted into the U.S. Army and posted to a hospital on Okinawa from 1960-1962. After leaving the military, he took a faculty position at the University of Rochester. In 1964 he joined the medical staff at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI, where he practiced for 25 years.

Lee was an expert in ultrasound. In 1985, during a trial of a new ultrasound machine, he diagnosed his own prostate cancer. He responded by conducting research and became a pioneer in the diagnosis, staging and treatment of prostate cancer.

In 1990, Lee joined Crittenton Hospital in Rochester, MI, where he practiced until 2015. He won numerous awards for his work in prostate cancer, was named a Michigan Man of the Year in 1986, and in 1987 was featured in a PBS special with Elizabeth-Kubler Ross, titled “The Windstorms of Life”.

Lee is survived by his wife, Ethel, his children: Alexa Lee (Matthew DeGenaro, Ann Arbor, MI), Suzanne Lee (Peter Pryde, Madison, WI), Fred Lee Jr. (Marjorie DiMaggio, Madison, WI), Amy Lee (Stathi Mexas, Berkeley, CA), and Andrew Lee (New York, NY); six brothers and sisters; and his beloved grandchildren.

William W. Pfaff.

William W. Pfaff, MD ’56, died on March 6, 2014, from prostate cancer.

A native of Rochester, NY, Pfaff earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard University before attending UB Medical School. He trained at the University of Chicago, the National institutes of Health and Stanford University. In 1965, he joined the faculty of the University of Florida, where he was promoted to full professor in 1971.

Pfaff performed the first successful kidney transplant in Florida in 1966 with Robert Cade, MD, and Dana Shires, MD. He maintained an active practice in general surgery, which he regarded as his primary role, with transplantation his avocation.

Pfaff organized the first transplant program in Florida and will be remembered for his leadership and ability to bring people together to attain this goal.

A voracious reader, Pfaff never stopped learning. He was an avid sailor, the original “foodie,” and made a point of finding joy in every day.

He was married to Patricia Ann Clark Pfaff for 53 years. They have four daughters, Nancy Loftus, Karen Fluman, Peggy Pfaff-Walton and Cathy Sak, and nine grandchildren.