Obituary: Rolf Schapiro / Champion of preventative medicine

Sept. 16, 1933 - Oct. 12, 2013

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Rolf Schapiro, who as a boy left war-ravaged Germany for America and became a prominent radiologist in Iowa and Pittsburgh, died Saturday at Allegheny General Hospital, where he had practiced for two decades.

He was 80 and split his time between the Trimont on Mount Washington and Florida.

Dr. Schapiro retired in 1999 after 20 years as chairman of the diagnostic radiology department at AGH and a member of the hospital's board of directors.

Prior to his professional life here, he had served as acting chairman of radiology at the University of Iowa and head of radiology at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Iowa City.

Born in Duren, Germany, in 1933, the year Hitler came to power, Dr. Schapiro saw the effects of war first-hand.

As a boy, his family said, he helped downed Royal Air Force pilots escape the Germans into Belgium and witnessed the devastation of Allied bombing.

"He said that's why he became a doctor: He wanted to help people because he'd seen deprivation and injury," said his daughter, Sandra of Charlotte, N.C. "He'd seen war and he wanted to help people as a result."

His older brother, Juergen, also became a doctor and left for America after the war, settling in the Cleveland area. The rest of the family followed in 1949.

After high school, Dr. Schapiro's studies at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland were interrupted when he was drafted into the Army during the Korean War. He was fortunate; stationed in Kansas as an X-ray technician, he never left the U.S. He later graduated from Case Western's medical school and did his residency at the University of Pennsylvania.

He married his first wife, Dolores, at age 20 and raised three children as the family moved from Cleveland to Iowa City and finally Franklin Park.

At AGH, Dr. Schapiro published widely and championed magnetic resonance imaging and a mobile mammography van.

"He believed in preventative medicine," his daughter said.

After his first wife died in 1993, he sold his house and moved to the Trimont. He and his longtime partner, Janet Izzi, married last year after a 17-year relationship.

In his spare time, Dr. Schapiro kept fit by playing racquetball and tennis as well as swimming and hiking. He also enjoyed the Pittsburgh Symphony and especially liked travel; he and Dolores, and later Ms. Izzi, took numerous trips to Europe, China and Australia.

Dr. Schapiro died of complications from emphysema. He had long been a smoker, starting when he was in the Army, although he had quit cold turkey at age 50.

Besides his daughter and Ms. Izzi, Dr. Schapiro is survived by his son, Steven of Pompano Beach, Fla.

Funeral services are private. Arrangements are being handled by Thomas P. Kunsak Funeral Home on the North Side.


Torsten Ove: or 412-263-1510. First Published October 14, 2013 8:00 PM


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