Dr. Joshua Schwartzberg
Dr. Joshua Schia Schwartzberg, “Doc Josh,” was born after World War II in Munich, Germany, on March 21, 1946. He died Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019.
His parents, Ida and Kalman Schwartzberg (originally Szwarcberg), were both Auschwitz Holocaust survivors. His older brother Gerson, grandmother, and over 10 aunts and uncles were murdered by the Nazis during the war. In 1951, his family immigrated to the United States, arriving on a DC3. Josh would often reminisce about this first aviation experience, which he enjoyed tremendously.
His family settled in the Bronx and later moved to the small town of Norma, New Jersey, in 1953. One day, the mayor offered to take Josh fishing in a small creek, and it was here that he says his lifelong love of fishing began. He also enjoyed living in a small town and appreciated the close-knit community feel that he experienced at a young age.
After a short stint living in New Jersey, his family moved to Philadelphia where Josh spent the majority of his young adult life working in his parents’ butcher shop located in a multicultural immigrant community. Josh attributed his love for food, a diverse palate and his strong work ethic to helping his parents and younger siblings run this family business. Although Josh’s parents worked hard to rebuild their lives, they were very poor, and there were not many family resources available to Josh.
Josh excelled in school, and in ninth grade he was invited to attend Central High School, a magnet school in Philadelphia. Here he found refuge in education and the pursuit of knowledge. He attended Temple University as an English major, and with the help and encouragement of his friend Jay Ellis, Josh applied to the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and was accepted. During school, he often worked two to three jobs to pay his way. At one point, he even started a small cactus and succulent business with a friend, which sparked his lifelong passion for nurturing plants.
After medical school, Josh reflected on his early childhood days living in New Jersey and decided with his first wife, Ora, that they would start a life in the Adirondacks. Josh took his first job as a doctor in a small clinic in Old Forge. After the birth of his eldest son Jesse, he and his young family moved to Saranac Lake, where he joined Dr. F. Trudeau and several other physicians at Medical Associates. He later had practices in Lake Placid, Willsboro and Burlington, Vermont.
His two other children, Ezra and Eli, were born in Saranac Lake. Josh took great pride in raising his three sons with small-town values, a connection to nature and an appreciation for pursuing life’s opportunities.
In 2003, Josh married Beth Schiller. Beth is also a pilot and shares Josh’s passion for flying, adventure and health care. Josh and Beth have resided in Essex, where they raised livestock on their property, enjoyed a grass runway for their airplanes and spent each day admiring the beauty of the Champlain Valley. Beth has been Josh’s best friend and true partner since their first date 20 years ago, when she met and fell in love with him and his Portuguese water dog, Buster. She lovingly and courageously supported him throughout their life together and especially through their final journey with cancer.
Josh was an avid fisherman throughout his life and made countless trips to remote areas of northern Quebec, Ontario and Alaska. He loved to ski, fly, fish and spend time with his grandchildren.
To his many patients: He loved being your doctor and getting to know you. It was not uncommon for him to have a patient stop by the house after dinner for stitches at the dining room table, receive a shot in the kitchen or get an exam in the living room. He believed in personalized care and took great pride in providing it whenever and wherever it was needed. When asked what kind of doctor he was, he would always reply, “a pretty good one.”
Josh is survived by his wife of 15 years, Beth Schiller of Essex; three sons: Jesse and his wife Kim of Saranac Lake; Ezra and his wife Audrey of Saranac Lake; and Eli and his wife Emily of Lake Placid; and seven grandchildren. He is also survived by his sisters Marion and Sima, and his brothers Leo and Nate.
Josh would not want flowers or a donation given to any particular cause in his name; instead he would ask that anyone reading this obituary strive to live a life that consistently gives back to others through careers, actions and relationships. His email footer reads, “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass … it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” He spent every day living like it was his last, and even after he received his pancreatic cancer diagnosis, he continued to live his life how he always had: seeing patients, spending time with family and friends, fishing, cooking, taking care of his plants and taking time every day to stop and smell life’s roses.
Josh died at home, supported by family and friends. The world lost an incredibly wise husband, father, brother, grandfather, doctor and friend.
At Josh’s request, there will not be a formal service.
We will miss you, Josh.