Dr. Roger Joseph Malebranche, 87, of Galway, New York, the former Chief of Surgery at St. Clare's Hospital, transitioned at home on January 17th, 2020.
He was a beloved physician, humanitarian and educator who performed countless surgeries and saved thousands of lives while practicing in Schenectady between 1974 and 2000.
Dr. Malebranche was born in 1932 in Anse-à-Veau, Haiti, the son of Adrien Malebranche and Celanie Beaudin. As a young boy, he was raised in Morne L'Hopital by his grandmother, Grand Dede and aunt, Tante Jeanne. Tante Jeanne was a local educator in Port-au-Prince and was a mother to him, raising him from childhood to early adulthood.
He attended the Institute de Saint Louis de Gonzague in Haiti, a local Roman Catholic primary and secondary school, and later matriculated into the Faculté de Medecine de l'Université d'Etat d'Haiti, where he graduated magna cum laude. After taking a position as a physician at the seashore town of Port-à-Piment du Sud, Dr. Malebranche emigrated to the United States in 1961 as part of a medical fellowship at Columbia University. In 1962, he began his surgical internship and residency at Ellis Hospital, where he later received additional training in pathology, vascular surgery, and orthopedics. Dr. Malebranche also trained at Harvard Medical School, Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, in Boston, Massachusetts.
It was here that he met a young nursing student, Donna Marie Shinglar. The couple married in 1967 and were together for 52 beautiful years.
Dr. Malebranche opened his practice in Schenectady, New York, in 1974 where he was renowned both for his suburb technical skill as a surgeon and his unparalleled compassion and bedside manner. He was an esteemed fellow of the American College of Surgeons, a diplomate of the American Board of Surgery, a member of the Medical Society of the County of Schenectady, and served as the Chief of Surgery at St. Clare's Hospital for over 20 years.
Dr. Malebranche was a knowledgeable and passionate watch, clock, and antique collector, as well as an avid reader and historian who loved classical and opera music. Despite the stress of a surgical career, he was known for his jovial personality, being a skilled joke and storyteller, and as someone who cherished the joy and intimacy of human connection with family, friends, colleagues, and patients. His patients saw him as more than just their doctor – he was like family. He often wrote opinion pieces to the Daily Gazette, savored the daily ritual of completing the crossword puzzle with his wife, and enjoyed reconnecting and communicating with family and friends on Facebook.
Dr. Malebranche is survived by his wife, Donna; children, Michelle and David; grandchildren, Skylar and Addison; numerous siblings; and many loving friends and colleagues. He treasured his time with family, and despite the recent health obstacles facing him, was able to enjoy the 2019 holiday season with his beloved wife, children, and grandchildren.
Calling hours will be held at the Bekkering Ellis Funeral Home, 1 Mohawk Avenue, Scotia, NY, on Saturday, January 25th, 2020 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Donations may be made in Dr. Malebranche's memory to Konbit Pou Potapiman, a nonprofit organization in Port-à-Piment, Haiti that promotes civic, social, educational and health programs that benefit the local community – www.porta piment.com.
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