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A memorial service for Dr. Richard T. Sarkin, a local pediatrician and nationally known medical educator, will be held at 11 a.m. today in the auditorium of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 1285 Elmwood Ave.

Dr. Sarkin died Tuesday in the crash of a 19-passenger commuter plane in Kirksville, Mo., while en route to lecture at a symposium. He was 54.

A staff member at Women and Children's Hospital for more than 25 years, Dr. Sarkin served as the hospital's director of general pediatrics for newborn services, and, as an attending physician, cared for children at the Hodge Street Clinic.

As a professor of pediatrics in the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Sarkin became a pioneer in the field of medical humanism -- teaching medical students and doctors how to teach and communicate with their patients.

In 1988, he was appointed director of pediatric medical student education at UB, where he quickly devised programs on how to more effectively teach to medical students. His methods -- including using movie clips in his lectures -- caught on, and Dr. Sarkin was soon in demand for workshops at medical meetings around the country.

Dr. Sarkin won numerous teaching awards, including the coveted Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1998.

He was a native of Hillside, N.J., where he excelled as an athlete at the Pingry School. He led the soccer team to the New Jersey state soccer championships in the late 1960s, and to this day holds the school's high jump record.

He graduated from Johns Hopkins University, where he played soccer for one year.

A former science teacher, Dr. Sarkin graduated from New York Medical College in 1977 and came to Women and Children's for his residency in pediatrics. That's when he met his wife, the former Marcia Sanders.

At 6-foot-5, and wearing his ever-present baseball cap, Dr. Sarkin was a familiar face on the Amherst youth sports scene since the early 1990s. He coached his daughter, Jessica, and son, Alex, in the Amherst soccer and basketball associations for several years, and was later a sideline fixture during their games at Amherst High School.

He and his wife enjoyed the movies and the art scene, particularly the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. He also enjoyed rock 'n' roll and often traveled to see concerts featuring his favorite performers, including the Allman Brothers Band, Grateful Dead and Eric Clapton.

Every year during Thanksgiving week, Dr. Sarkin and his family would travel to Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Besides his wife of 22 years, son and daughter, Dr. Sarkin is survived by his mother, Elaine Sarkin Zheutlin, and stepfather, William Zheutlin, both of Hillside; a sister, Jane Sarkin O'Connor, also of Hillside; and a brother, Jonathan of Rockport, Mass.


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