Tyr Wilbanks, M.D., Beloved Colleague and Mentor, Valiant to the End
On December 3, Einstein and Montefiore lost a dear member of its faculty, following his heroic, decade-long battle against chronic illness. He died surrounded by his wife Liz and their four children at his home in Old Greenwich, CT. He was 64.
Known as the consummate mentor and colleague, Dr. Tyr Wilbanks never let his illness dampen his resolve, his grace, nor his devotion to his fellow man, especially his joy of teaching.
“Tyr joined our faculty in the department of surgery at my request in 2009,” said Robert Michler, M.D., professor and chair of surgery. “He loved teaching medical students and residents, and it showed in his roles as the associate residency program director in general surgery and medical student clerkship director in surgery at Montefiore-Einstein. He’ll long be remembered and highly regarded for these roles.”
Numerous colleagues recalled his selfless service to his patients and to providing excellent training for medical students and surgical residents. Francis Baccay, M.D., observed, “No matter how tired Tyr may have been or how late in the day it was, he was receptive to any question or thought. He was approachable and accommodating, and he challenged his students and residents to become independent thinkers and innovators all the while remaining collegial and supportive.”
Dr. Baccay added, “His trust and encouragement of surgical residents to develop their own surgical intelligence and ingenuity greatly influenced their development and growth.”
Throughout his storied career as a general surgeon and educator, Dr. Wilbanks left an indelible mark on the many lives he touched. Above all else, he was a man of principle and character.
“Tyr worked hard even during the depths of his illness,” said Edward R. Burns, M.D., executive dean at Einstein. “There were days when he was operating at Wakefield and then would run over to Einstein to deal with the clerkship. He was a champion for medical education who gave more than he physically should have.”
Joshua Nosanchuk, M.D., professor of microbiology & immunology and senior associate dean for medical education agreed. “Tyr set high standards and was ever-diligent when serving as our surgery clerkship director. He continued to actively contribute to the clerkship through his multiple roles despite his ongoing medical struggles. His passing is a profound loss.”
Dr. Wilbanks graduated cum laude from the University of California Berkeley, where he was among its first undergraduates in the newly created department of molecular biology. While at UC Berkeley, he also was on the varsity gymnastics team that won the national championship in 1975, and the Pacific 8 championship in 1975, 1976, and 1977. He graduated Alpha Omega Alpha from Cornell Medical School.
Editor's Note: If you would like to leave a remembrance of Dr. Wilbanks, please visit our In Memoriam Remembrance page.
Posted on: Wednesday, January 20, 2021