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Longtime Watertown pediatrician George S. Sturtz dies at 88

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Dr. George S. Sturtz, a longtime Watertown pediatrician who referred to himself in a 1994 Times story as “a plain old country doctor,” has died.

Dr. Sturtz, 88, Alexandria Bay, died Tuesday in Bronxville. Calling hours will be from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Cummings Funeral Service Inc., 214 Sterling St. A funeral Mass will be said at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Patrick’s Church, 123 S. Massey St.

Dr. Sturtz practiced medicine for nearly 40 years, retiring in 1994. He co-founded the North Country Children’s Clinic in 1971 as a well-child program targeting low- and middle-income families. The agency now has locations in Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence and Franklin counties.

“He was a real pillar of our organization,” said Janice L. Charles, interim director of the clinic. “We would never have progressed the way we did without him. We will miss him greatly.”

Mrs. Charles, who retired in 2009 after leading the clinic for nearly 30 years, said Dr. Sturtz “played a key role in promoting nurses” in the clinic’s early days when it was staffed by about 20 volunteer nurses, offering medical training that allowed the nurses to serve more as nurse practitioners than was common at the time.

“He had the foresight to want to put nurses in that role,” Mrs. Charles said. “He provided a lot of training so that we were able to actually examine children and identify what was normal and what was abnormal.”

A graduate of Georgetown University’s medical school, Washington, D.C., Dr. Sturtz did his residency at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., among the most pre-eminent medical institutions, where he was chief resident. Despite an early start in research and an offer to join the staff of the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Sturtz returned to Watertown, eventually starting in 1957 the practice that became Pediatrics Associates of Watertown.

When asked at the time of his retirement whether he always planned to return to Watertown, Dr. Sturtz said, “Always. It’s my home, my community.”

He also worked on Head Start and with Catholic Charities. He was president of Mercy Hospital’s medical staff in 1982; was the House of the Good Samaritan, now Samaritan Medical Center, chief pediatrician from 1970 to 1975; and from 1957 to 1975 was the pediatrician at the former St. Patrick’s Orphanage, among other appointments. The former Mercy Hospital’s dialysis center was dedicated to him.

A full obituary appears on B4. Online condolences may be made at www.cummingsfuneral.com.

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