Time & Eternity: Francis Podbielski '80

PodbielskiIt’s not uncommon for Dr. Francis Podbielski ’80 to spout verses from Shakespeare or a poem by Poe in the operating room.  Mr. Malito’s love of the English language and its literature is still palpable to Francis 40 years after graduation.  While the annual eighth grade math contest is what drew Francis to Marist, his most enjoyable time was spent in honors English. 

“Mr. Malito’s organizational skills and attention to detail vastly enriched my vocabulary and enabled me to tackle the challenges of writing throughout life,” Francis said.  “I also enjoyed Mr. Santoni’s calculus classes in which we spent more time discussing world politics than actually doing calculus or so it seemed.”

But Mr. Santoni must have known what he was doing because Francis did extremely well on his AP test and placed into advanced calculus in college – setting the stage for an academic career that would lead Francis to become a celebrated thoracic surgeon. 

“My Marist education imbued in me a strong sense of self-discipline and a focus on the duty of social responsibility to my fellow human beings,” Francis said.  “Although rigorous, surgical residency and cardiothoracic surgery fellowship really were not difficult given my Marist training.”

Throughout his career, Francis has been involved in academic surgery as well as professional organizations and yet still finds time to participate in surgical missions to Bolivia, World Scout Jamborees, the Knights of Columbus, and, with his wife Anna Montes, the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre. 

“While a pinnacle of achievement, the Time and Eternity Award serves as an omnipresent reminder of the unfinished work that remains and my personal role in making it happen, thus giving us all an unshakable faith in the future,” Francis said.

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