To the faculty, students and staff of New York Medical College (NYMC), the Touro College of Dental Medicine (TCDM) and NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan:


The deaths, over the past week, of Ralph A. O’Connell, M.D., and Richard K. Stone, M.D. ’68, will weigh heavily on some members of the NYMC and Metropolitan families. It is inevitable, however, that with the passage of time and the arrival of new students, faculty and staff, for many people these two names will, if anything, produce a recollection solely of a portrait of Dr. O’Connell in the Sunshine Cottage Board Room at NYMC and a plaque in a conference room at Metropolitan named in honor of Dr. Stone.

Because the lives of these two men were so deeply intertwined with the modern history of NYMC and Metropolitan, I wish to share some thoughts about them and their meaning to many of us. 


I never found myself capable of addressing Dr. O’Connell as “Tony,” although he tried to persuade me to do so. I never addressed Dr. Stone as “Richie,” although others did. To me they were “Dr. O’Connell” and “Dr. Stone” and must remain so in this letter. 


Dr. Stone’s association with NYMC and Metropolitan spanned more than half a century. After graduating from Queens College, he enrolled in NYMC’s School of Medicine (SOM) in 1964. His teachers in pediatrics included the late Edward Wasserman, M.D., professor emeritus and chair of the department from 1963 to 1990, and the late Lawrence B. Slobody, M.D. ’36, who would later serve as president of the College. As a student, Dr. Stone was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha and received his M.D. in 1968.


He was resident and chief resident in the Department of Pediatrics at Metropolitan. When he was chief resident, he supervised a medical student on his pediatrics clerkship at Metropolitan: the current chair of the Department of Pediatrics, Leonard J. Newman, M.D. ’70. After active duty at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, Dr. Stone returned to become pediatric residency director at Metropolitan in 1973, chief of pediatrics in 1981, and president of Metropolitan's medical board from 1987 to 1989. In 1989, he became chief medical officer at Metropolitan. He would hold this position for the next 25 years. At NYMC he was senior associate dean of the SOM, professor of clinical pediatrics, and professor of clinical public health. He served for three years as president of our Faculty Senate.

Dr. Stone received the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation in 2008 and the Jackson E. Spears Community Service Award at the 2014 Founder's Dinner. He was aptly described by Michael Gewitz, M.D., FAHA, FACC, FAAP, professor and vice chairman of the Department of Pediatrics, in an email to me, as “the consummate gentleman administrator who was effective without being confrontational…a truly dedicated NYMC and Metropolitan “lifer.”

Dr. O’Connell graduated from the College of the Holy Cross with a B.A. degree and received his M.D. from Cornell University where he was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha. This was followed by a fellowship at Oxford University to study blood clotting mechanisms. He was a surgical intern and psychiatric resident and chief resident at Saint Vincent’s Hospital in New York City. He served as a captain in the United States Army Medical Corps, deployed at Fort Knox, Kentucky. After his residency, he was vice chair and clinical director of the Department of Psychiatry at St. Vincent’s. He joined the NYMC faculty in 1980 and was appointed provost and dean of the SOM in 1996. When he stepped down as dean in 2012, he remained on the teaching faculty, serving as the vice chairman for research in the Department of Psychiatry and on the staff at Metropolitan until 2017 where he often walked to work, occupied a remarkably spartan office and tried to persuade me to let him pay for my lunch in the Metropolitan café. 


NYMC Board of Trustees member, Ronald F. Poe, recalled, “Twenty-five years ago when I joined the NYMC Board, I was, to say the least, a medical and scientific neophyte. Tony spent endless hours not only explaining and mentoring me, but also arranged countless introductions and tours. He was one of the finest people, I have had the pleasure to associate with.”

Dr. O’Connell was president of the Associated Medical Schools of New York, the New York Psychiatric Society, and the University Club of New York where he treated me to an extremely elegant cup of tea before escorting me to Carnegie Hall for my first NYMC commencement in 2012. He was fellow and trustee emeritus of the New York Academy of Medicine, trustee and vice chair of the board of Catholic Charities and director of the Catholic Communal Fund. He was personable, dignified, perceptive and possessed a dry wit. He left me his umbrella in my Sunshine Cottage office, where it remains in the coat stand. I’ll keep using it. He would think me foolish to treat it as an icon and would not have hesitated to tell me. 


The lives and work of Drs. O’Connell and Stone bring to mind, for me, the words of the book of Ecclesiastes 44:1-15. I reproduce the passage in the elegant King James Version, although I have taken the liberty of updating the spelling.


Let us now praise famous men, and our Fathers that begat us. 

The Lord hath wrought great glory by them, through his great power from the beginning.

Such as did bear rule in their kingdoms, men renowned for their power, giving counsel by their understanding, and declaring prophecies:

Leaders of the people by their counsels, and learning meet for the people, wise and eloquent in their instructions.

Such as found out musical tunes and rejected verses in writing.

Rich men furnished with ability living peaceably in their habitations.

All these were honored in their generations and were the glory of their times.

There be of them, that have left a name behind them, that their praises might be reported.

And some there be, which have no memorial, who are perished as though they had never been, and are become as though they had never been born, and their children after them.

But these were merciful men, whose righteousness hath not been forgotten.

With their seed shall continually remain a good inheritance, and their children are within the covenant.

Their seed stands fast, and their children for their sakes.

Their seed shall remain forever, and their glory shall not be blotted out.

Their bodies are buried in peace, but their name live for evermore.

The people will tell of their wisdom, and the congregation will shew forth their praise.


We shall rarely see the like of these two men again. In our work we stand upon the edifice they helped build. May their memories be for a blessing for all of us. 


I extend my best wishes to all for a happy and healthy new year.


Edward C. Halperin, M.D., M.A.

Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer


N.B. I acknowledge the assistance of college archivist Nicholas Webb for preparation of biographical material about Dr. Stone. Any errors, however, are mine. 

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