Dr. Robert Alan First, M.D. of Harvard, MA former longtime resident of Concord, MA died on Saturday, February 9, 2019.
He is survived by his wife and soul mate of 21 years Susan (Abatsis) First; his biological children, Robert, Timothy and Cynthia First; his two grandsons, Andrew and Nicholas First; his sister, Flora Greenberg; his cherished chosen daughters, Heidi Thorndike, Jessica Shlasko and Christina Bethke, along with many friends and colleagues. He was predeceased by his beloved son, helicopter pilot Lt. Andrew G. First, U.S. Marine Corps.
Dr. First was born in Beverly, MA, son of the late Melvin and Hilda (Weil) First. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Kenyon College in Gambier, OH in 1955 and a Doctor of Medicine from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1959. He served both his surgery internship and residency with Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (Brigham & Woman’s) in from 1959-61. For the next three years he completed his orthopedic residency with Children’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. A Vietnam veteran and Bronze Star recipient, Dr. First was a Major in the U.S. Army Medical Corps from January 1968 to January 1970, serving in-country for a year with the 2nd MASH unit in Chu Lai from February 1968-69.
Following his honorable discharge in 1970, Dr. First returned to his private practice at Orthopedic Affiliates Inc. in Concord, MA. He served as Chief of Orthopedics at Emerson Hospital from 1971-75; Chairman of the Department of Surgery from 1975-77. Fellowships include Teaching Fellow at Harvard Medical School, 1965- 1970; Teaching Fellow at Tufts Medical School from 1970-1999 and Fellow of American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. He spent most of his professional life in Concord from 1969 until he moved to Harvard in 1998.
In addition to his distinguished medical career, Dr. First enjoyed many hobbies throughout his life including woodworking, gardening and long rides on his BMW motorcycle. Spending a day golfing with friends was always a treasure. His pack of Westies (West Highland Terriers) held a special place in his heart. He was truly devoted to his country, his career, his family and to all who knew him.
A celebration of life memorial service will be held in early summer with the date and location to be decided.
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Dr. First may be made to: the Mass General Home Base Program Fund, 125 Nashua Street, Suite 540, Boston, MA 02114-1101 (giving.massgeneral.org)
Arrangements are under the thoughtful guidance of Acton Funeral Home, 470 Massachusetts Avenue, Acton, MA 01720. For life story or online condolence visit www.actonfuneralhome.com