Richard Michael Nowak, M.D. of Grosse Pointe Park, MI passed away January 26, 2023 at the age of 75.
Richard was a member of the Henry Ford Medical Group since 1975 and in 1976 was a founding Senior Staff member of the HFH Department of Emergency Medicine, the residency program, and the research mission. He served as Chairman of the department from 1988-1992. His contributions to the department's clinical and academic missions over the course of his 48-year career at Henry Ford Hospital are immense and will forever set a standard.
Richard enjoyed an international reputation in Emergency Medicine with expertise in cardiac emergencies, resuscitation, asthma, and cardiac biomarker research. His intellectual curiosity and unbridled enthusiasm served him well in his academic endeavors. Anything and everything interested him, and the research he pursued matched the breadth of his interests. In the 1970s and early 80s, Richard studied the use of spirometry in the assessment of acute asthma. His work led to the popularity of hand-held peak flow meters that have become standard in assessing the severity of acute bronchospasm. Richard was a pioneer in CPR and cardiopulmonary bypass research, both in the lab and the Emergency Department. He did "bench to bedside" research decades before the term was even coined. He has served on numerous international editorial boards in academic Emergency Medicine and Cardiology, has been recognized across the globe with honors and awards for his academic work, and has been published in every high impact journal pertinent to his expertise. Richard had a lifelong compassion for learning and had an unending curiosity.
Richard was a mentor to many faculty and learners over the years, and his passion for scientific discovery has influenced countless peers the world over.
Although he had a passion for medicine, his greatest love and passion in his life were his wife and children. He loved spending time with his family and attending his children's many sporting events over the years including hockey and horse shows.
When he was not working, he loved to travel with his wife, Debbie, and their two children. Together, the family visited many countries and made many friends.
Richard and Debbie built a log vacation home together on Lake Huron. This home served as an oasis for their favorite getaway with family and friends.
Richard had a passion for cars. He loved music and played classical piano, although his true love was Rock and Roll. His favorite band was the Rolling Stones. Richard was a season ticket holder to the theater for over 40 years.
Richard lived life to its fullest. He will be dearly missed.
He is survived by his wife, Deborah (Debbie) and his children, Michael (fiancée Lauren Voigt) and Katie.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Michael and Margaret and his brother, Raymond.
Visitation will take place on Friday, February 3, 2023, from 4 pm until 8 pm at Chas. Verheyden, Inc., 16300 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Park. He will lie instate on Saturday, February 4, 2023 from 10 am until the time of the funeral Mass at 10:30 am at St. Clare of Montefalco Catholic Church, 1401 Whittier, Grosse Pointe Park.
Dear Debbie and Family,
Please accept my deepest sympathy for your loss.
Richard was an inspiring colleague and a good friend.
I remember how impressed I was when I first met Richard. It was my first day as a DEM staff in 1982, and he was in the middle of repairing a laceration as he enthusiastically welcomed me to HFH. I felt so honored to become his colleague, because Richard was already on his way to becoming a legend among the Emergency Medicine (EM) community. His publications on resuscitation and asthma were well known. In fact, his research on the use of Peak Flow meters to assess the severity of asthma, became one of the most practical clinical tools in EM and is still used today!
In the ensuing decades, Richard’s research endeavors continued to elevate the status of our EM specialty, nationally and worldwide. And Richard did like to travel Internationally, as we all know!
Working ED shifts with “Dr Nowak” was always interesting and uniquely inspiring for myself, and for our DEM residents. His insightful comments and questions related to even the most common cases, helped us develop as critical thinkers.
Richard’s positive and friendly personality was catchy, but what I remember most, was that he was always a gentleman, maintaining professionalism amid the chaos of the ED, even when confronted by highly aggressive consultants. This was really worth emulating, as he always “caught more flies with honey than vinegar”!
Richard lived his life to the fullest. He exhibited a genuine interest in all things, medical and non, and he was always ready for new experiences and challenges!
Richard, you will truly be missed by all of us who knew you and worked with you.
I can attest Richard Nowak's international interest in spreading the word about Emergency Medicine. Richard called me one day in Honolulu to tell me he is going to visit me on his way to Australia to discuss advancements in asthma. Richard stayed at my condo while in Hawaii preparing for his trip. i took Richard to the airport to catch his Quantas seat in first class to Sydney Australia. In the ticketing lobby there was a sign to have your passport and visa ready. I asked Richard if he has his passport and visa with him. He said passports I have two a US Passport and a Canadian passport. What about the visa I asked. Richard admitted that he did not think he needed a visa because a Canadian passport like Australia are members of the British commonwealth. He said the worse that would happen is to be held in transit while the ministry of health who invited Dr Nowak to get a visa. Richard told me to go home he is sure it will work out. I told Richard I can't leave him stranded at the airport. So Richard approached the checkin counter and the agent asked for passport AND visa. Richard said I don't have a visa but I have this letter from the Ministry of Health inviting me to speak at various stops. Richard pointed out that he has a first class seat for the flight. The agent told Richard go to the Australian Embassy in the morning. The agent said he cannot even book a future flight without the visa. As a last ditch effort the Australian ambassador's residence was on a tourist map so we left the airport and when there. Richard was sure that if the ambassador saw the ministry of Health letter he would issue a visa on the spot. The Australian ambassador was not too friendly being awoken at 11pm. The next day I took Richard to the Australian embassy. They were waiting for Richard. They took the ministry of health letter and told Richard to come back in 3 days. When he returned they had the visa ready and Richard was able to book his flight in coach first class was all filled up. Richard spent a couple days on his return to Honolulu in a better mood than he left with a case of Australian wine for his efforts.
I graduated from HFH Emergency Medicine in 1985 and signed on with Kaiser Permanente in Honolulu. Richard reached out to me in mid-December because he wanted 100 Hawaiian leis for a DEM Christmas party. There was no FedEX overnight delivery in 1985. Richard told me to send the leis by American Airlines cargo. Between ER work shifts I bought a100 leis got to American Airlines cargo and got the leis to Detroit in time for the party. Paul Raykov
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Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230
Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230
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