Dr. John Joseph McGroarty, who for more than 30 years practiced ophthalmology in a humane and idiosyncratic style that endeared him to countless patients, has died on December 22 at age 81.
With affable stubbornness and a certain aristocratic flair, Dr. McGroarty had for the past several years put up a noble fight against Parkinson’s disease with Lewy Body Dementia.
Born January 20, 1936, in Brooklyn, New York to Mary Grant McGroarty, a school teacher, and James Francis McGroarty, an oil inspector in the comptroller’s office of New York City, “Jack” was raised to value education and hard work. He attended Bishop Loughlin High School and later Columbia University, where he was captain of the track team, graduating in 1958.
Then came a stint in the U.S. Navy, where Jack was commissioned as an officer and served for three years on the destroyer USS Wadleigh. Upon the urging of his older sister Carol, also a school teacher, he decided to apply to medical school, graduating from New York Medical College in 1965. Jack’s younger brother, James, would soon follow suit, earning a medical degree in 1968. It’s been said that the brothers’ proud father once declared himself the “father of American medicine.”
After a year of internship and a three-year residency at Columbia-Presbyterian Eye Institute, Jack moved to California to begin private practice. The year was 1969. By this time, he and his wife Kathleen McGroarty (née Mitchell) had two sons, Sean and James, both born in Brooklyn. The family settled in North Hollywood, where two more sons, Daniel and Michael, were born, followed by a daughter, Meghan. Jack and Kathleen divorced in 2003.
A board-certified ophthalmologist, Dr. McGroarty was on staff at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. His practice on Riverside Drive was where he was happiest, treating patients from all walks of life with equal attention and gentleness. There was a time when younger patients could leave his office with a prescription for glasses in one hand and a “prescription” for Baskin-Robbins in the other. Dr. McGroarty and his staff also offered free vision screening to students at St. Francis de Sales Elementary School every year.
Jack is warmly remembered for his compassionate bedside manner, boundless energy and mischievous sense of humor.
May he rest in peace.
In addition to his siblings and children, Jack is survived by eight grandchildren: Kieran, Gavin, Olivia, Brody, Riley, Braden, Callan, and Lucia, plus numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
A funeral Mass and memorial is scheduled for Monday, January 15, 10am, at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Sherman Oaks. A reception will follow.