In Memory

Robert Jaros

Robert Jaros

Remembering Bob Jaros    9/21/17           From Nancy Bronstein

Dr. Robert H. Jaros, radiologist and nuclear medical doc, husband, father of 3, grandfather of 5, and lover of life, died in Sarasota, Florida on March 26 with his wife Lynda right beside him. His kids and grandkids had just spent spring break with the family. Bob died the day after they left.  

Bob went to Columbia University out of high school, then Downstate Medical School in Brooklyn, followed by Yale and Harvard-Mass. General for his internship and residency. He lived with his family in Shelburne, MA for almost 50 years at the top of Patten Hill Rd., a dirt road cut through acres of sugar maple forests, apple orchards and corn fields. The view from the top of Patten Hill can only be described as picture-perfect New England, with the Green Mts., Mt. Greylock, and, on a clear day, the White Mountains in the distance. Bob chose this farm carefully and never got over how lucky he was to have found it.

I met Bob when he was young enough to be called Bobby, that shy guy with the big brown eyes whose signature look in high school was a guitar or banjo strung over his shoulder. We sat next to each other in in Miss Wolf’s 7thth grade block class, then got to know each other the summer after 10th grade at Putney work camp in Vermont, a place that profoundly changed our lives, but no one’s more than Bob’s. After Putney, Bob spent as much time as he could, hiking all through New Hampshire’s White Mountains. He fell in love with New England’s rural life at the age of 14, and it soon became clear that it was where he was meant to be.  

In 1968, near the end of his residency, Bob saw an ad in the New York Times for a 250-acre parcel of farmland, including the original barn and a rundown 19th century farmhouse. That evening he, his wife, and four other couples said yes to buying Patten Hill Farm as partners in a land-holding cooperative still alive and well today.

Bob practiced family medicine through the late 1970s, first in Greenfield, then, in 1974, at Amherst Medical Associates as their radiologist. In 1978, he took a job as head, and sole physician of the Dept. of Nuclear Medicine at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, NH, 120 miles northeast of Shelburne. A newly licensed pilot and owner of a 4-seater single engine Beechcraft Bonanza plane, he already had a way to make the commute to Manchester work. Just fly!

As the department’s only physician, Bob was more or less permanently on call. But living so far from the hospital, he had no way to read scans for urgent cases. If there was an emergency and he’d just gotten home, he’d turn around and fly right back to the hospital, or in bad weather, drive the 4+ hours back and forth. After a few years of this grueling schedule, he came across a company in Denver called Colorado Video interested in working with him to create a device that would allow him to remotely read scans over the telephone lines.

For all I know, this device could have been one of a kind. It had no brand name, so Bob called it The Box. In its earliest iteration (and there were many over the years as it was slimmed down and improved), it was a bulky silver suitcase that looked a lot like an old traveling magician’s case. Inside the large box was a smaller one equipped with a screen. It went everywhere with him. When he’d come to visit us in California, he’d burst through the door making a beeline for the phone to set it up. He was incredibly quick at it, unscrewing the listening and speaking covers on either end of the phone receiver, then clipping the box wires to the phone wires. A call to his hospital tech with his new contact number and he was set. The images emerged painfully slowly, taking shape from top to bottom to the tune of a high-pitched scratchy signal. Often a lung or a heart study, the transmission was sometimes interrupted by a visible line of interference that blocked portions of the organ. That required repeated transmissions, sometimes two or three of them to be sure nothing significant was hidden from the diagnosis. 

This device, even in its imperfect early days, gave Bob the freedom to go home at night and even take an occasional vacation. He was never without it, not for at least another decade until laptops made their appearance.

As much as he loved medicine, and it was a driving force in his life just after his family, Bob’s favorite pop-in job for the last 10 years, was as unofficial taste tester at Bart’s Ice Cream factory in Greenfield. Thursday was tasting day, and the joy of eating ice cream right out of the “pipe”. Bob rarely missed it.  According to Gary Schaefer, co-owner of Bart’s with his wife Barbara, Bob would regularly call in. “What are we making today?” he’d ask. If it was chocolate, a flavor made only once a month, he had to be there. And from time to time over the years, said Gary, he would flag a flavor that needed tweaking. “He’d make a face and say, ‘something isn’t right here.’ And we’d double check, then fix it, because he was never wrong.”

With Bob’s passing, I lost my closest and oldest friend. Bob was smart as a whip, and had a deliciously wicked, if not often corny, sense of humor.  He loved BBQ ribs, coffee ice cream, morning buns, lobster, and more than anything else, fresh-picked New England corn. A folk music devotee and accomplished musician (12-string guitar, banjo, and mandolin), he was so good that in 1960, he was invited to sing on Theodore Bikel’s WBAI radio show, twice.

He held deeply progressive, activist political convictions, was generous to a fault, and a risk-taker who loved to invest in other people’s innovative projects from raising ‘cutting’ horses used to gather or separate cattle, to bringing mobile scanners into rural Australia.

This guy was simply larger than life. He shed his shyness just after high school and became one of the most outgoing people I’ve ever known. You couldn’t walk into a store without him starting a conversation with the guy in front of him on the line, the cashier, the gas station attendant, chatting away as if he’d known them all for years. Why? The sheer joy of it.

He was the back-up doc who was always available night or day for his friends and family, and many of my friends too, no matter where they lived or whether he knew them. He’d ask to see their studies, offer his advice, and in the rare instance when he couldn’t sufficiently address a concern, he’d say, “Don’t worry, I’ve got a guy!”

And he always did.




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09/26/17 08:27 PM #1    

Jan(et) Denenholz (Silver)

Nancy, you have written the most beautiful and loving tribute to an extraordinary human being. It sounded like Bob lived life to its fullest. What a privilege you had to be his friend. -- Janet Denenholz Silver

09/26/17 08:27 PM #2    

Marjorie Portnow

iThanks Nancy for your beautiful remember ance

I remember bob as one of the most gentle and caring people of our class and deeply committed to social change  a very special person


09/27/17 02:56 AM #3    

Jack Singer

Jack Singer (60' GNS)

Bob became friends during  sophomore year at Columbia and roomed together at the very top of Hartley, not accessible by elevated.  At that Bob, we werre heavily involved in left wing political activities on campus, worked to form a political action group with Eric Foner and others (Action), brought concerts to Campus including Pete Seeger, Bob Elliott and others.  Bob was the glue for the group.  Bob was addicted to YooHOO and we had huge numbers of empties scattered around the room.  He had a VW beetle that we used to go to Vermont on weekends, stay at the Putny school and tried to ski.  No money, terrible equipment, tough conditions - not a great mix for beginners.   Lucky we survived.    

Bob had an outsized influence on me, where I was introspective and shy, he was outgoing, socially involved, and helped me come out of my shell.  He also opened up my eyes to areas such as social injustice and political action.

Bob was very smart - he actually understood philosophy and took courses in it.  I

We started going different routes with steady girl firends by 4th year but unbelievable both wound up at downstate medical even though neither of us intended to be docs.  

I lost track of him after medschools and I went West and he stayed East and we have been out of touch for many years.  


I remember him fondly

09/27/17 10:22 AM #4    

Steven Rosenfeld

Bob was one of several people (all men, of course) who were both my high school and Columbia College classmates. Unfortunately, after college, I lost touch with Bob, but reading Nancy's moving tribute made me sorely wish I hadn't. It brought back memories of Bob, most vividly of sitting in a circle on Sunday afternoons during senior year, singing folk songs with Bob, cross-legged on the floor, playing a rollicking banjo accompaniment. Those were the days -- full of youthfulness, joy and hope. Thanks for the memory, Nancy -- and thanks, Bob.

Steve Rosenfeld

09/27/17 12:44 PM #5    

Phyllis Ewen

I actually knew Bob in kindergarten where we were friends, as were our parents, lost touch, and then reconnected when he was in Medical School with Jack Singer. I was on leave from college, working at boring secretarial jobs in New York and then taking courses at Columbia before returnining to Brandeis.  So for a brief time we saw a lot of each other and I remember him fondly and admiringly.  I was sorry to lose touch, but have with so many others.  Thank you Nancy Bronstein for your beautiful tribute.  A loss for all of us.

09/27/17 09:14 PM #6    

Janet Chernela

Bob was a little like that mountain he ended up living on: he was solid.  I have many fond memories of Bob -- a non-prom at the beach with Nancy Bronstein, his life-long friend, and Kenny Bialin.  My sixteenth birthday in the "City," paying $1 to stand in the back to see Ruby Dee in Raisin in the Sun (that was a Broadway play for $1!).   And singng songs to his 12-string guitar.  It's comforting and somehow familiar to picture him with his traveling scanner gizmo attending patients up and down those Vermont hills.   Like the folks at the ice cream shop, and all those folks he counseled about health, I miss him.  















































































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