February 9, 2006
BYLINE: ALDO NAHED, anahed@MiamiHerald.com
Services will be held this morning for Dr. Everett Van Dyke Sugarbaker, a prominent cancer surgeon and accomplished long-distance cyclist, who died Sunday of a heart attack at his Miami home. He was 65.
Sugarbaker retired on Dec. 31 to pursue volunteer work in Africa.
During his medical career, he helped thousands of cancer victims. Outside the hospital, Sugarbaker relaxed by collecting Persian rugs, antique furniture and grandfather clocks. He also enjoyed fishing and hiking, including Pikes Peak in Colorado.
But he was passionate about cycling — often for six hours or more at a time. One of his greatest accomplishments was riding in the grueling, 750-mile Paris-Brest-Paris cycling race in 1995.
Daughter Katy Caliguiri, 33, of Pittsburgh, said her father loved his hobbies as much as his patients.
”He loved biking and the biking community; he gave 180 percent all the time,” she said.
Born in 1940 in New York, Sugarbaker was the oldest of nine brothers and sisters. His father was a surgeon and a major figure in his children’s lives. The family moved to Jefferson City, Mo., where they worked their 16-acre apple farm.
”My father believed in keeping us busy,” said his brother, Dr. Paul Sugarbaker, a surgeon in Washington, D.C. “It was extremely hard work.”
In 1962, Everett Sugarbaker graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois, where he majored in chemistry. In 1966, he received his medical degree from New York’s Cornell University Medical College, where he was a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. His five years of general and thoracic surgical training took place at the Massachusetts General Hospital, a Harvard University affiliate.
In 1968, he married Catherine Mongiello, whom he met working at the hospital. The two were married for 28 years, divorcing in the mid-1990s.
Two years after completing his surgical residency program in 1973, he moved to Miami to work at the University of Miami medical school, where he taught future surgeons. In 1980, he founded the Miami Cancer Institute, which offered a multi-disciplinary team approach to treating patients. He also opened a private practice, Surgical Oncology, Inc.
”He was one of the finest cancer surgeons in this country,” said Catherine Sugarbaker.
In addition to his work in Miami, Sugarbaker also volunteered in Ipiales, Colombia, where he traveled several times a year to help doctors treat cancer cases and to start cancer programs. After the 1999 earthquake in Armenia, Colombia, he went there to help rebuild hospitals and nursing homes.
”He always had a meaningful connection with South America and he spoke fluent Spanish,” said his brother.
Sugarbaker also had to cope with personal tragedy. In January 2000, his son Everett M. died of melanoma while studying to become a physician.
After his son died, Sugarbaker cut back on fishing and continued his cycling. He was a member of the Everglades Bicycle Club, and would participate in annual rides from Miami to Key West. While most cyclists would car-pool home from Key West, Sugaraker would ride his bike back to Miami — in one day.
In November 2000, Sugarbaker married Myriam Rodriguez, whom he met through a mutual friend.
”He saved so many people; it’s hard to say how many,” said Myriam Sugarbaker.
In addition to his wife and ex-wife, daughter and brother, Sugarbaker is survived by his mother Geneva; brothers David and Steven; and sisters Rena Pedersen, Geneva Sugarbaker, Eve Tolley, Deborah Digges, Constance Moore and Elizabeth Akre.
Services will be held 11 a.m. today at St. Phillip Episcopal Church, 1142 Coral Way, Coral Gables. A graveside service will follow immediately at Woodlawn Park Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to the St. Phillip Memorial fund in memory of Everett M. Sugarbaker, St. Phillips Episcopal Church, 1142 Coral Way, Coral Gables, FL 33134.