Larry Schreiber, humanitarian and doctor, dead at 68

The doctor who delivered countless babies, gave dignity to many in their last moments and opened his own home to children in need of one died Monday (Jan. 18). He was 68.

Posted 1/18/16

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Dr. Larry Schreiber has been called the Albert Schweitzer of the Sangre de Cristos but to his 14 children, he was simply called “pop.”

The doctor who delivered …

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Larry Schreiber, humanitarian and doctor, dead at 68

The doctor who delivered countless babies, gave dignity to many in their last moments and opened his own home to children in need of one died Monday (Jan. 18). He was 68.

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Dr. Larry Schreiber has been called the Albert Schweitzer of the Sangre de Cristos but to his 14 children, he was simply called “pop.”

The doctor who delivered countless babies, gave dignity to many in their last moments and opened his own home to children in need of one died at his residence in San Cristobal Monday (Jan. 18). He was 68.

Family members say Schreiber’s career as a doctor and humanitarian can be traced back to his time as a teenager volunteering at a center in the New York City area serving children with cerebral palsy.

Born in 1947, Schreiber was born in the Bronx and raised in the New York City area. His parents worked at department stores — his father at Macy’s, his mother at Gertz.

But his family had a passion for public service.

The youngest of three children, both of his older siblings became lawyers, one of whom worked as a civil rights attorney for the U.S. Department of Education.

After graduating from Hofstra University, Schreiber attended medical school at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Always seeking adventure, as his son Dr. Lucas Schreiber described him, he moved to New Mexico in the 1970s for a medical residency. He worked with the Indian Health Service before being lured to the Questa Health Center by Dr. Michael Kaufman.

Schreiber arrived in New Mexico with his dog, his first wife and a foster child not much younger than either of them.

The 17-year-old foster child was a hemophiliac who lived with the Schreibers for a few years.

Schreiber welcomed several young people into his home in addition to having three children. The doctor adopted his first son, Matthew, in the 1970s, and spent a year navigating bureaucracy to adopt another child, Michael, he met in a Cambodian refugee camp.

Schreiber spent 3 months volunteering with the Red Cross on the Thai-Cambodian border in 1980, caring for the malnourished victims of a humanitarian crisis.

Returning to Taos, he resumed work at Family Practice Associates, which he founded in 1979, but continued to advocate for children.

Schreiber co-founded Child-Rite in 1985, later referring to the organization as his 15th child.

The nonprofit was launched to recruit and train families to adopt children with special needs.

But not only did he support strong starts for young people. Schreiber also sought to ensure dignity in dying.

Schreiber was the medical director of Mountain Home Health’s Hospice Program and promoted professional hospice care to ensure patients had a “good death.”

Schreiber is also known to have worked closely with AIDS patients when the disease first emerged in New Mexico.

Schreiber’s life of service left an impact on his children.

“We all grew up with the idea that what makes your life meaningful is serving other people,” his son Jordan Schreiber said.

But even though he gave so much to Taos, the doctor was also fully committed to his family, Jordan Schreiber added.

“We always felt he was giving 100 percent. The funny thing is, the community probably felt the same way,” he said.

Schreiber was joined in practicing medicine at Family Practice Associates by his son Lucas, who grew up watching him make rounds and house calls.

“He demonstrated the beauty of the practice and the impact you can have on people’s lives,” he said.

In Taos, Schreiber was the epitome of a small-town family doctor, known for often accepting payment in firewood or food.

And working in a small community required caring for patients on a personal level.

“My perception of what it meant to be a doctor is what my dad did,” Jordan Schreiber said. “That’s treating all the medical needs — and beyond the medical needs — of a community.”

A diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease did not immediately slow Schreiber.

An avid hiker, he summited Mount Kilimanjaro in 2011 with another Taos resident, Allen Ferguson, and often spent his days off work in the Sangre de Cristos.

“He was drawn to the mountains,” Dr. Lucas Schreiber said.

Parkinson’s Disease eventually caught up with the doctor, however. Schreiber retired from Family Practice Associates in 2015 and suffered a stroke last week, leading to the end of a life defined by service,

He is survived by his wife of 22 years, Cathy Strisik, and children Matthew, Michael, Jordan, Champa, Lucas, YoRi, Ciela, Reynoldo, Dimitra, Gina, Mary Garcia, Gabrielle Stokes and Lorena Salazar. He is preceded in death by his son Kevin.

Family members plan a celebration of his life Saturday (Jan. 23), 1:30 p.m. at the Sagebrush Inn. (The time and location have been changed.)

This story has been updated.

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