OBITUARY

Dr. William J. Hostnik

July 21, 1928December 1, 2018
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Dr. William John Hostnik, 90, affectionately known as "Dr. Bill", passed away peacefully on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, surrounded by his loving wife and family members.

Dr. Bill worked at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London for more than 40 years, serving as chief of plastic surgery. He also operated at the William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich, and consulted at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. He was a member of numerous medical societies, serving as president of the New England Society for Plastic Surgeons, the Connecticut State Medical Society, and the Connecticut Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons.

Dr. Bill combined the best medical technology with compassion and dedication, and was loved and respected by all who knew him. He had a rare gift for making every patient feel like the most important person he was seeing, and he was always available for his patients when they needed him. His family remembers the many late night or early morning calls from the emergency room, and he never hesitated to respond immediately to those in need of his special skills.

Dr. Bill's entire medical career was marked with excellence, beginning at Johns Hopkins University where he graduated at the top of his class in 1950 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and then as a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society in Johns Hopkins Medical School, graduating in 1954. After interning in general surgery for a year in Baltimore, he became an officer in the U.S. Navy, serving as ship doctor on a troop transport that sailed each month from New York to Bremerhaven, Germany. It was in the Navy that Bill experienced what he later referred to as the luckiest night of his life. His blind date turned out to be Susan, the love of his life. They married in 1957 and lived on the Naval Air Base in Lakehurst, N.J. After his tour of duty with the Navy ended later that year, they moved back to Baltimore for another year of residency, then on to Albany, N.Y. for four more years of residency in general surgery. Deciding to focus on plastic surgery, the family relocated to St. Louis, Mo., for two years of residency in that specialty.

They came to Old Lyme in 1964 with their three children, and were blessed with two more in the following years. Even though Dr. Bill worked long hours, his children remember him being a very involved father, always encouraging his same tough work ethic, but entertaining them as well with his love of fun. For all his kindness and compassion, Dr. Bill was a terror on the tennis court. He was a fierce competitor with what opponents described as a "killer" serve. He was one of the better players at the Old Saybrook Racquet Club where he was a member for more than 50 years. He delighted in showing no mercy to his sons, who certainly challenged him, but rarely bested him.

Dr. Bill's tennis career had started as a teenager in his birthplace, Charleroi, Pa. He and other members of his high school team used to shovel snow off the tennis courts so they could play in the winter months. He developed his game further as a student at Johns Hopkins, playing in the early mornings with one of his professors. Dr. Bill displayed his same hallmark fighting spirit, humor, kindness and compassion in his long battle with Alzheimer's disease, asking no quarter and giving none. His family described how they would hear him counting to himself or reciting the names of his children in an effort to reconnect with that wonderful brain of his. For more than 10 years, Susan battled with him, serving as the primary caregiver for her husband of 62 years. Dr. Bill was able to stay in his much loved home in Old Lyme until his last year, and he spent countless hours admiring his and Susan's handiwork, and remembering the wonderful family times and his many accomplishments. His extraordinary skill with his hands was not confined to the operating room. He loved to make furniture in his basement workshop, creating pieces that could have sold in any furniture store.

Dr. Bill was predeceased by his parents, Charles and Bertha Hostnik; and an older brother, Carl.

He is survived by his wife, Susan; his children, Charles, Heidi, Stephen, John and Susan; his grandchildren, Kate, Jamie, Nathan, Alexandra, Brandon, Tara, Christopher, Kelsey, Garner, Ryan, Jake and Starr; and his great-granddaughter, Amara.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated for Dr. Bill at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at Christ the King Church, followed by a reception. A private burial will be at the convenience of the family.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations may be made to the Alzheimer's Association or Fairview Nursing Home of Groton.

Dr. Bill never forgot the message Dr. William Warren of the Baylor School of Medicine delivered to a graduating class of new physicians. "Wear the white coat with dignity and pride – it is an honor and a privilege to get to serve the public as a physician." Dr. Bill left an indelible mark on the hearts of everyone who met him, from his close-knit loving and supportive family, to the doctors, nurses and hospital staff he worked with, to his friends, to his many kind and devoted caregivers during his valiant struggle with Alzheimer's.

We extend special thanks to the ever kind and wonderful staff at Fairview Nursing Home, where he spent the final year of a wonderful life.

Services

  • Mass of Christian Burial Friday, December 7, 2018
REMEMBERING

Dr. William J. Hostnik

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Kenneth Dooley

December 4, 2018

I remember the day when Bill Hostnik visited me at my office at Prentice-Hall. A lady from Personnel, Lynda, rushed into my office , threw her arms around Bill and gave him a big hug. Later she explained that her son had suffered a serious facial burn in a kitchen accident. She was hysterical in the emergency room until Bill put his hands on her shoulders and said in six months any evidence of the burn would be gone. Of course, he kept his promised, as he always did.
Dr. William Ousler, one of the founders of Johns Hopkins Medical School once said, "The good physician treats the disease. The great physician treats the patient." This is a fitting epitaph for Dr. Bill. Thanks for making me a better person, on and off the tennis court.
Ken Dooley

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