Dr. J. Ronald Verrier, 59, director of the division of general surgery at St. Barnabas Hospital, died from complications of the coronavirus Wednesday, according to family. He is survived by his wife and three children.
“He loved being a surgeon, he loved family, he loved music, he was always smiling,” said Dr. Christina Pardo, a relative.
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Originally from Haiti, Dr. Verrier completed medical school at Faculte de Medicine et de Pharmacie in Port-au-Prince. He moved to New York and completed residency at Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx, according to the hospital’s biography.
At St. Barnabas, he was the director of the surgery residency program where he mentored young doctors.
“He did so much to help build up and support the surgical residents and department,” said Dr. Mitch Gorman, a chief surgical resident at St. Barnabas.
“I will always remember him for his concern for the well-being of others, his bright demeanor, and his infectious laugh,” Gorman said.
“He was the soul” of the surgical program, said Dr. Gerard Baltazar, a former partner in the trauma surgery practice. Baltazar was a young doctor when he worked alongside Verrier from 2015 to 2019.
“He was so - the word is not simple - it’s noble. He always knew what I was going through before I could put it into words for myself,” Baltazar said.
“He will be missed for his good humor and great friendship,” a spokesperson for the hospital said in a statement.
Pardo last spoke to Verrier about a week ago when she says Verrier called. He was at home not feeling well, but refused to talk about himself.
“He was so much there for everyone else,” said Pardo.
Family and friends cannot grieve Verrier’s death together, but tributes circulate on social media.
“He was so full of life and love. I'm so sad and so heartbroken,” wrote one New York City physician on Twitter.
“Your legacy lives on through your trainees,” wrote another from Ohio.
Pardo hopes a virtual gathering can be held to honor him.
“The one thing I know about him is that he loved being a surgeon and when I reflect on him, one part of solace that I have is that he was a surgeon all through to the time of his death,” Pardo said.