Son of Moishe Mayer Roback and Fanny Roback
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Historical records matching Harry Roback
About Harry Roback
=Harry N. Roback, MD=
by Maud Roback Pincus
I was born into turbulent times…July, 1932 in Berlin, Germany. My father, Harry Roback, the eldest of the Roback 9 was a medical student at the University of Berlin when that soon to become monster, Adolph Hitler, was elected Vice-Chancellor of Germany on January 1, 1933. My father, a student of History as well as Medicine, a then British subject from Montreal, Canada and my mother, Betty, a citizen of the United States, from Brooklyn, New York but born in the Ukraine area of Russia concluded that dreadful times were ahead for Jews in Germany and my father persuaded my mother to leave Germany with me in arms in April, 1933 and return to his home in Montreal.
He followed the summer of 1933 at the end of his school year. However, while he had not completed his medical education he had undoubtedly succeeded in saving his life as well as the lives of his wife and baby daughter. Life never came easy but he was admitted to the McGill University School of Medicine where he completed his medical studies attaining his M.D. degree in 1934. His gratitude to McGill University for allowing him to complete his medical education never dimmed. He applied for a post doctorate research position in the laboratory of the noted physiologist, William Penfield who said “no,” he already had enough Hebrews.
My father then accepted a Fellowship at Mt. Sinai Hospital, in New York and thus began the next stage of my father’s education and new citizenship: the United States where he chose to become a citizen in 1937 and I became acquainted with my mother’s New York family of which she was the eldest of five children, three sisters and one brother. My maternal grandfather had contracted tuberculosis and my becoming acquainted with him was sadly long distance between the sidewalk and his hospital room window….he had been confined to a TB sanitarium and I never felt the warmth of his loving arms….only waving of hands. How sad. TB had become a dreadful illness in the congested city of New York during those years.
My father chose to pursue the medical specialty of Psychiatry moving the family to Topeka, Kansas where he pursued a Residency at the Menninger Clinic. He was not only a capable student but started the Clinic’s monthly research journal….he was always a fine writer. And the family increased by one more child….Merrill was born in Kansas, a true American….a state where we witnessed a plague of grasshoppers, dreadful humidity….I have memories of my father carrying our mattresses down from the second floor of our home onto the screened-in porch so we could catch a breeze or two while trying to sleep. Those were the days before the invention of air-conditioning.
After completing his Residency in Psychiatry the family of four moved to the state of Washington where the family grew once again welcoming the birth of Howard. Our father was practicing psychiatry at a State Mental Hospital in Medical Lake, Washington and the family was provided with a house on the grounds. The various workers such as gardeners and domestic help were mental patients adjudged to be safe but my beloved mother’s blood pressure must have been in a constant state of elevation worrying about her brood of three interacting with the patients wandering the grounds…..and the three of us did not have a clue.
That situation was not ideal and when an opportunity came to move to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where our father worked at the County Hospital and we lived in a home situated in a lovely neighborhood, my mother’s blood pressure returned to normal. Another move was on the horizon…. to a suburb of Akron, Ohio called Medical Lake. We were living there when President Roosevelt declared war on Germany, Italy and Japan in December, 1942. My father, with his impressive language skills and his history of being a student in Berlin, Germany when Hitler came into power, made him decide to enlist in the Army Medical Corps. He was 40 years old, he did not have to do it.
What would happen to the family? I was then 10 years of age, Merrill was 6 years of age and Howard was 3 years of age. My father was given the rank of Major and sent to San Francisco’s Letterman General Hospital on the grounds of the Presidio….those of you who know San Francisco may know of where I speak. My parents had decided that if my father was posted to a base in the U.S., we would try to stay together. If he were sent overseas, my mother and the three children would relocate to New York where my mother had family.
My father was transferred but to a large Infantry Base called Camp Roberts located in San Louis Obispo about half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles. We were quite comfortably settled in San Francisco and that is where our mother and the three children lived during WWII. We saw our father every other weekend as he was able to leave the base and come north to see his family. I have memories of our going to the Golden Gate Park and watching polo matches. We lived in a rented home very near the park and our Sundays usually involved walking to those polo matches or to other interesting events taking place in that great park.
When the war ended in 1945, my father accepted a position with the Veteran’s Administration having the opportunity of developing the Dept. of Psychiatry at a newly built V.A. hospital in Van Nuys, California…..in the San Fernando Valley east of Los Angeles. Mother and the sibs left San Francisco and this time joined by our father, took up residence in Burbank, CA….a community also in the Valley but this time the family was together once again and at last. The great war was over and the news of the Holocaust became known to all. I can only imagine what was going through the minds of my parents who were living in Berlin when Hitler came into power and how close they were to being caught up in that scourge of unbelievable history and cruelty.
I have one more move to describe…..Harry and Betty missed family. Merrill, Howard and I knew almost no family other than my mother’s unmarried sisters, aunts Ann and Lee and my father’s sister and her husband, Auntie Annie and Uncle Norman….yes, those four visited us from time to time, when they could. Finally, yes finally, Harry and Betty realized how important it was that we return east and rejoin the family. Harry was Board Certified in the State of Ohio and was then forty-four years old and not wishing nor inclined to having to study for the Medical Boards once again…… Cleveland, Ohio became the last move for Harry and Betty and their three children: Maud, Merrill and Howard.
Our father, Harry died in 1976 at the too early age of 73. Our mother, Betty died in 1992 at the age of 88 having lived as a widow for 16 years….they are buried in Cleveland, Ohio. Maud’s beloved husband Howard died in 2012 at the age of 90 and Maud lives in beautiful Southern California near son Glenn, his wife Jill and granddaughters Katherine and Lindsay…….both of whom are collegiates and son Philip and wife Kathleen and grandson Thomas and granddaughter Alexandra (Allie) live but a two hour drive away…if the Southern California traffic is light.
Today, Merrill, his wife Shari, their sons Paul and Edward their wives, Stephanie and Amy and their children, son Adam (Paul and Stephanie) and daughters Madeline and Genevieve (Edward and Amy) live in and around Cleveland, Ohio. And Howard, his wife, Ellen live in Nashville, Tennessee while their children Michelle, her husband Greg and two daughters, Beckett and Talia live in Atlanta, Georgia as do their son, H.B. and his wife, Sarah and daughters Beth and Hannah also residing in Atlanta, Georgia.