Obituary: Stewart M. Flam / 'Health-care legal giant' with eye for detail

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Stewart M. Flam always strived for perfection, whether he was defending the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center against medical malpractice lawsuits or helping a colleague build a snowman.

That dogged determination guided both his professional life as a lawyer and his personal life as a husband and father.

Mr. Flam, 58, died early Monday morning at UPMC Presbyterian from complications from a May 19 heart bypass surgery.

"He was someone who would not rest until an issue was resolved correctly and everything was done right," said Joe Christof of Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, the law firm where Flam had worked for the past 30 years. "He was a perfectionist and he would not let it go until it was done right."

It was Christof who spent more than 21/2 hours with Mr. Flam building a simple snowman in 1975. Mr. Flam refused to give it a rest, Christof said. The snowman, he insisted, had to have a neck, oh, and don't forget the buttons, and the arms weren't right.

Mr. Flam graduated from Pottstown High School. He received a bachelor's degree in architecture at Carnegie Mellon University in 1970. He went on to receive his law degree in 1975 at Duquesne University, where he was the editor of the Law Review.

Working closely with the risk management program at UPMC for 25 years as a legal representative and consultant, Mr. Flam was known for having a dead eye for detail and for his renaissance personality.

"He was tenacious and full of energy," said Lisa Painter, the program's associate director. "You felt safe when you spoke to him."

Bonnie Poole of Shadyside, Mr. Flam's younger sister, said his acute sense of detail and his multifaceted ability were sometimes overwhelmingly.

"He just knew how to do everything," she said. "Sometimes you couldn't stand him, yet, you couldn't not love him."

In addition to his sister, Mr. Flam is survived by his wife, Karen, of Sewickley; daughters Jessica Carolyn, Emily Laura and Molly Elizabeth, all of Sewickley; and a brother, Robert, of Sewickley.

Services were yesterday at Rodef Shalom Temple.

Moustafa Ayad can be reached at or 412-263-1731.


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