Most mornings as John Sachs left home for service at a Walter Reed center near Washington, D.C., his children would line up at the door and salute their father, a doctor who was drafted during the Vietnam War.
"He loved it," son John Sachs Jr., of Manhattan, recalled. "I was very proud of him."
A renowned blood researcher who worked for three decades at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, Sachs died July 17 of complications from a fall. He was 78.
Sachs, his family and the medical school said, was a professor of medicine and physiology there from 1975 to 2007.
He spent his long career chasing scientific discovery. When he was a young medical student at Columbia University, a conversation with a professor about the mysteries of red blood cells sparked not just a curiosity, but a body of work.
"It was the challenge of it," his son said of the complexity behind the cells. "He wanted to find out why."
Sachs was born in Brooklyn on July 29, 1934, to a family of modest means, his son said. A big break was earning a spot at Regis High School in Manhattan. From there, he attended Manhattan College, graduating in 1956 with a bachelor's of science, and Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, graduating in 1960.
After college, his son said, Sachs became a post-doctorate fellow at the medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. When his fellowship ended, he went to Yale, researching and teaching in the medical school's department of physiology, family said.
A three-year stint in the Army interrupted his tenure there. In 1966, he was drafted and commissioned a captain, his son said, researching treatments for soldiers suffering a rare blood disease thought to have been brought on by Vietnam's tropical climate. Later, he was promoted to major, his son said, and in 1969, he was honorably discharged.
After several more years researching and teaching at Yale, Sachs left for the recently formed Stony Brook University School of Medicine. Family said he was a founding member of the medical school's hematology division.
"His work was his hobby," Sachs said.
In addition to his son, Sachs is survived by his wife, Marilyn, of Manhattan; daughters Carolyn Yuen, of Ridgefield, Conn., and Jennifer Loframento, of Forest Hills, Queens; and two grandchildren.
A memorial service will be Sept. 29 at the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan, family said.