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It is with profound sadness that we share the passing of beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend, Hugo Federico Rodriguez, M.D. on November 11, 2022. He was 92 years of age. Hugo is survived by wife Gail, children Hugo Jr., Suzanne, Todd, Nicole, Ellana, and Anthony, adopted sons Claudio and Chanel, their spouses and many grandchildren.
As a young physician, Hugo first came to the United States in 1958 to further his medical education, but it wasn’t until 1964, upon meeting the love of his life, Gail Ann Blanchard, that he decided to stay and make his life here. He and Gail were married for 57 years, and their steadfast love for, and devotion to, one another was a guiding light and a nurturing warm glow for their lucky children and grandchildren.
Originally trained as a surgeon, Hugo transitioned into the burgeoning field of interventional radiology, first at PGH and Cooper Hospital before joining the team at Lankenau Hospital in Wynnewood, PA. Hugo spent 30 years with the group, retiring from medicine in 1998. To his colleagues, his techs (“where are my girls??”), his residents, and his patients, Hugo was a mentor, teacher, confidante, and friend. He could be brusque, but he wanted the best for those under his care, and he wasn’t shy about demanding it.
While he was passionate about the practice of medicine and the care of his patients, Hugo was a farmer at heart -- like his father and grandfather before him. In 1973, he and Gail purchased a run-down Victorian farmhouse in Kimberton, PA, and over more than a decade transformed it into a working black angus farm, and a wonderland for their six children. Claudio Martinez joined the family in those years: Hugo’s right-hand man and defacto big brother to the kids. Hugo rose before the sun to tend his livestock and his crops before commuting to Lankenau for a full day of patient care. Then it was back to the farm in the evenings - out to the barn or the fields - often until late. He was rarely happier than when he was midwifing calves in the middle of frozen winter’s night or raking and bailing hay in the summer sun. In 1987, Hugo and Gail seized the chance to buy Gail’s dream home, Foxfield Farm, and while Hugo vowed to give up the rigors of active farming, it wasn’t long before horses, sheep, Highland cattle, and even alpaca dotted the fields.
His deep-dive into farming was just one example of Hugo’s defining nature: he was a lifelong learner, whose boundless energy inspired those around him. From bovine genetics to Pennsylvania impressionist art, he was insatiable in his pursuit of knowledge. He was also fearless and believed in the insurmountable ability of hard work to transform lives. Even on his rare vacations to the family’s cottage in Stone Harbor, he preferred digging up the lawn to replace sprinkler heads to lounging on the beach. Retirement was no different… he took the opportunity to fulfill a life-long dream of returning to the Dominican Republic, where he spent a decade rehabilitating his father’s farms – years he said were among the happiest of his life. During this period, he took Chanel Perez under his wing, adopting him as another son, funding his education, and igniting in him the same optimism and high ambitions as the rest of his children.
Upon his return to the U.S., he and Gail began wintering in Florida, first in Naples and later in Bokeelia, where Hugo got back to his passion for agriculture by planting and tending dozens of tropical fruit trees around his property. In summer, he could be found in Kimberton, Pennsylvania working on his garden and cheering for his grandchildren at their sporting events -- the twin joys of his later life. Hugo’s thirst for knowledge, his passion for self-improvement, his tireless work ethic, and his deep, abiding love for his wife and family are an inspiration for those who knew him and loved him.
“He was a Man; take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again.” - Shakespeare in Hamlet
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to Shriners Hospitals for Children (donate.lovetotherescue.org), Tunnel to Towers Foundation (t2t.org/donate), or a charity of your choice.
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