Dr. Lawrence Werner dies at 80

Smithtown physician Lawrence Werner, a physician who spent Smithtown physician Lawrence Werner, a physician who spent five decades caring for Smithtown families and helped train generations young doctors, died after a massive heart attack. He was 80. Werner was with his wife, retired State Supreme Court Justice Mary Werner, while in a doctors office when he suffered a reaction to an antibiotic. Photo Credit: Handout

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Dr. Lawrence Werner, who spent five decades caring for Smithtown families and helped train generations of young doctors, died after suffering a massive heart attack this week. He was 80.

Werner was stricken Tuesday while in a doctor's office with his wife, retired State Supreme Court Justice Mary Werner. He died two days later at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown.

Werner practiced medicine in Smithtown starting in 1961 when he opened an office on Landing Avenue near the heart of downtown.

"He was an old-fashioned doctor who did house calls and felt that was what family care was all about," Mary Werner said.

He delivered so many babies, she said, he was even known overseas. Her son Steven, while traveling in Munich, Germany, was asked if his father was a doctor. "When he answered he was, the person said 'He delivered me,' " she said.

The family said Werner was also a consummate teacher and learner, and above all a physician who empathized with patients.

"He was a true healer," said his son, Kevin Werner, of Stony Brook.

Lawrence Werner was associated with Smithtown General Hospital and St. John's Hospital, now St. Catherine's. He was also team doctor for the Hauppauge High School football team and staff physician for numerous local nursing homes.

For many years, he was medical director of the Smithtown Parkinson's Therapy Center. He helped train several generations of doctors -- including his son-in law, Dr. Russ Hartwick.

Born in Ridgewood, Queens, Werner graduated from Cathedral Preparatory Seminary High School in 1949, St. John's College in 1953 and Cornell Medical School in Manhattan in 1957. While in his second year of medical school, he joined the Air Force as a second lieutenant and eventually became a captain. After medical school, he served two years' active duty at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines.

Werner, who retired in 2003, was an avid gardener, growing roses, orchids and African violets, and taking cuttings he found to grow them in his basement. He also became a director of Stony Brook University's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Other survivors include sons Steven, of Cary, N.C.; Larry, of Smithtown; John, of upstate Pleasant Valley; and Paul, of Roslyn Harbor; daughters Maryann Hartwick, of Athens, Ohio; Margaret Molloy of Warren, R.I.; and 15 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A wake will be held at St. James Funeral Home Saturday from 7 to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. A funeral Mass will be offered at Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church in Nesconset on Monday at 9 a.m. Burial will follow at St. Patrick Cemetery in Smithtown.

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