Obituary: Dr. David Rosenthal

Obituary: Dr. David Rosenthal

Dr. David Rosenthal, 76, passed away peacefully after a prolonged battle with Parkinson’s disease May 18, 2021, surrounded by loved ones at his home in Marietta. David was a renowned vascular surgeon, professor, mentor to many, researcher, accomplished athlete, Army reserve major, father of three and husband of 49 years.

David grew up in Great Neck, N.Y., and attended the University of Denver, where he was an All-American swimmer and water polo player. He graduated from Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn N.Y., in 1973. He did his internship at Kings County Hospital and residency at Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston. He was awarded a fellowship in peripheral vascular surgery at Tufts in 1978 after completing his residency.

He started his career in Atlanta in the summer of 1978 as a vascular surgeon and spent much of his career with Atlanta Vascular Specialists. He was affiliated with Georgia Baptist Medical Center and Atlanta Medical Center.

Over the course of his career, David was a mentor and teacher to scores of men and women at Atlanta Medical Center who became surgeons. This was his proudest achievement.

Dr. Jim Combs, who trained and was mentored by David and later became his partner, called David a “legend. He is an amazing person whose impact has been lasting in many, many lives. We all can relate in that we trained under Dr. Rosenthal. I am proud to be able to say that.”

At the age of 39, David began training to be a triathlete. His goal was to qualify for the elite Iron Man competition in Kona, Hawaii. He trained for a year and was elated when he learned that he had made the cut. He had three 2-year-old sons at the time and a full-time practice. His ever-patient wife Birgitta managed to hold the home front together as David went for one of his dreams.

David was one of three featured athletes on a nationally televised broadcast of ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.”

Before the race, the AJC did a feature story about the 40-year-old surgeon who had decided to take on this huge physical and mental challenge.

“The question everyone asks me is why,” David said. “Sometimes I honestly don’t know. It’s an individual event, a personal test for survival. If I can finish upright, I will have achieved my goal.”

David did finish.

Over the course of his career David wrote or authored over 300 academic peer-reviewed research papers related to vascular surgery. He invented surgical devices and developed innovative procedures that helped patients live better lives.

David was a co-founder of the Atlanta Vascular Society and later the president of the Southern Association for Vascular Surgery and the Georgia Vascular Society.

David was a longtime member of the Atlanta Country Club and was proud to have gotten two holes in one. He was an accomplished public speaker and often gave inspirational talks. But to his family and friends he was known as the life of the party and a joke teller few could match.

David was diminished physically at the end of his life. His family and those who loved him believe his spirit, energy and teachings will live on. They know living a life that helps and respects others is the most blessed thing to honor his life and memory.

David is survived by his wife Birgitta (Strom); his sons Matthew and Drs. Michael and Martin Rosenthal; his brother Robert; sister Risa; five grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

A celebration and reception to honor David was held May at the Atlanta Country Club.

David’s family and the Georgia Vascular Society are creating a scholarship and award to be given to young surgeons for research and scholarly work. To make a gift in honor of Dr. David Rosenthal, visit Arrangements by Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Care, 770-451-4999.

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