Doctor leaves legacy of commitment to patients

Dr. Michael Stark co-founded practice in Marlboro in 1987

BY AMY ROSEN Staff Writer

Arespected doctor who dedicated his life to helping people battle diseases recently lost his own battle. Dr. Michael Stark, 52, an internist and senior partner with Jersey Shore Associates in Internal Medicine of Marlboro, died at his home in Millstone Township on Oct. 28.

If the number of people who paid their respects at his funeral and sent get-well cards during his illness can be used to measure how people felt about Stark, it is clearly evident that he was loved by many.

“Michael loved his patients and loved working,” said Cindy Stark, his wife of 24 years. “He was a very special person who was dedicated to his patients and loved his life. He always ran late in the office when seeing patients because if they needed him, he was there, whether it took 15 minutes or an hour-and-a-half.”

In addition to his wife, Stark leaves behind two children, Jason Adams of Lower Berkshire Valley, and Laura Fletcher and her husband, Robert, of Yardville. He was very proud of his grandchildren, Alexis Fletcher, 9, and Robert Fletcher, 6.

Cindy Stark said her husband lost his mother, Shirley, when he was 16 years old and his father, Stanley, also a medical doctor, when he graduated from Syracuse University. While attending medical school at Autonomous Guadalajara Medical School in Guadalajara, Mexico, Stark met Arthur Haliczer.

“Michael had no place to go on holidays,” she said. “Arthur called his mom, Ronnie, and she and her husband, Isadore, said to bring him home. After that, he always went there on breaks. Mama and Papa Haliczer, as Michael referred to them, were wonderful. They loved him tremendously, treated him like a son and helped him out in many ways. He loved them very much and was grateful for all that they did. He called them his adoptive parents. It’s like they lost a child.”

Stark was also proud to be the grandson of Abe Stark, who served as the borough president of Brooklyn, N.Y., from 1962-70, and he had many photos of his grandfather with influential people such as Golda Meir, the prime minister of Israel, and members of the Kennedy family.

“Michael’s grandfather was a very big influence in his life,” Cindy Stark explained. “I think this is where Michael got his way with people because he saw his grandfather’s way with people. He was very loved and did a lot for many people. They were both well-liked by everybody.”

After completing his residency at St. Barnabas Hospital in Livingston, Stark opened his practice, Associates in Internal Medicine of Marlboro, in 1987 with Dr. Richard Eiges.

Dr. Joseph Romanella later joined the practice, which is currently called Jersey Shore Medical Associates in Internal Medicine of Marlboro, with offices in Manalapan. Dr. William Calabria joined the medical staff after Stark became ill.

Ed Sable of Marlboro said Stark was his primary physician for more than 10 years.

“No matter how sick you felt,” Sable said of Stark, “when he walked into the examining room with his big smile and cheery greeting, along with his high competence, you instantly felt a lot better.”

Stark was on the medical staff of CentraState Medical Center, Freehold Township, where he served as chief of staff for several years, and he was also a member of the board of trustees. In addition, Stark was on the staff of Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Neptune.

Dr. Ben Weinstein, senior vice president and medical director of CentraState Healthcare System, Freehold Township, said, “Dr. Stark was a knowledgeable, intelligent and cheerful man who had the best interests of his patients uppermost in his mind at all times. He will be greatly missed by his many patients, colleagues and friends.”

Stark loved to go fishing in Yukatat, Alaska, and developed a special bond with the people in that area. He had visited Alaska every year since 2000 and noticed the people in that region were lacking in medical care and educational opportunities. Stark and his adopted brother, Dr. Arthur Haliczer, a dentist, endeavored to change that situation by providing free medical and dental care to the people of the town. Unfortunately, their efforts were halted by the wheels of bureaucracy, Cindy Stark said.

She said she is hoping to start a foundation to help carry out her husband’s wish to help the underprivileged people of Yukatat.

The staff of Stark’s practice, Jersey Shore Associates in Internal Medicine of Marlboro, issued a statement saying, “We would like to thank Mrs. Stark and her family for the loving and tender care she provided Dr. Stark during his grave illness. Mrs. Stark, a loving wife, mother, daughter, sister and grandmother, was with Dr. Stark 24 hours a day, seven days a week providing care, comfort and love to her beloved husband. Dr. Stark had the best because he was the best. During this difficult time we want Mrs. Stark and her family to take comfort in knowing that her family will always be with us and that we will never forget the kindness and comfort given to the staff as well. Dr. Stark will be terribly missed by the staff and his patients and our doctors are committed to continuing Dr. Stark’s legacy with his patients and intend to provide the best care available.”

Cindy Stark added, “I would love to thank everybody for all their outpouring of love and concern for Michael. The cards, letters and phone calls – he loved them all until the end.”