Dr. Robert Hamilton Rexrode, Jr. died peacefully and painlessly at his Coronado home in the early evening of August 20. His death followed a long dispute with cancer. Born in Flushing, Queens, New York in 1937, Dr. Rexrode was a generation removed from his family's Virginia farm. An only child, Dr. Rexrode attended high school at the Cathedral School of St. Paul on Long Island, New York, university at Hofstra University, on Long Island, New York and medical school at Albany Medical School, in Albany, New York.
Ironically, given his impressive intellect and lifelong love of learning, books and teaching, Dr. Rexrode vastly preferred baseball to academics while at St. Paul's, consistently finishing at the bottom of his class academically. It was only at Hofstra University that Dr. Rexrode discovered his talent and love for all things intellectual. St. Paul's, however, remained the school he remembered most fondly. It was not until his final year at Hofstra University that Dr. Rexrode settled upon medicine as a career. Seemingly destined to follow his father's footsteps into the world of accounting, those familiar with Dr. Rexrode's lack of interest in anything financial are thankful that he decided to become a physician.
So too are his many former patients. Graduating medical school in 1964, Dr. Rexrode began his residency in internal medicine at Meadowbrook Hospital on Long Island, New York, completing his residency at University Hospital in San Diego, California. He maintained a private practice in Coronado for nearly 30 years and served for many years as medical director at Frederica Manor in Chula Vista.
He was a wonderful physician. Despite having maintained that he would have been happier to have practiced medicine in the Nineteenth Century, and despite his deeply held belief that the medical system in this country had changed for the worse, Dr. Rexrode was a wonderful physician. He helped people get better. He helped them live longer and happier lives. And when he could not do that, he helped them pass with dignity. His family is so very proud of him for that.
During the Vietnam War, Dr. Rexrode served in the Navy, both aboard the USS Skagit in the Medical Dept, and at North Island Naval Station. It was this service that brought him to Coronado, initially and temporarily in 1964 as a young Lieutenant. He returned in 1968 with his young family for good. His decision to move his family from New York to California was not an easy one, and it took a great deal of courage on Dr. Rexrode's part to move so far from his parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. He never regretted the decision. That being said, Dr. Rexrode never quite lost the last traces of his New York accent, in both speech and outlook, and to the day he died could tell you the starting lineup of the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers.
Dr. Rexrode had only one wish in his final years. That was to die with dignity in his own home. He was able to do so. He was able to do so due to the love, care and companionship given him by his aunt Margaret Seibel, who put her life in New York on hold to be with him, and the medical care and companionship of Naomi Chavez, his primary medical caregiver who became a dear friend to both him and his Aunt Marge.
Dr. Rexrode now lies alongside his mother and father, Julia and Robert Rexrode. He is survived by his three children: Patricia S. Halverson, nee Rexrode, (and her husband Clay Q. Halverson) of Bend, Oregon; Robert H. Rexrode III (and his wife Holly A. Sullivan) of San Diego; and Julia M. Delaney, nee Rexrode (and her husband Brian J. Delaney and son Liam M. Delaney), of Thousand Oaks.
There will be a memorial service on September 18, at 10 a.m., at the St. Paul's Methodist Church: 700 D Avenue, Coronado, CA. 92118, (619) 435-5691. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting a donation be made to the San Diego Hospice Foundation at 4311 Third Avenue, San Diego, CA. 92103.