Dr. Roger Pecoraro, Pioneered Research To Prevent Amputations

Countless patients at Seattle's Veterans Affairs Medical Center have been spared amputations thanks to Dr. Roger E. Pecoraro, who was internationally known for his work on diabetes and foot disease.

Dr. Pecoraro, 48, an associate professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, died of cancer Dec. 17.

He was an associate professor at the university, and since 1975 was an attending physician at the veterans' hospital. He was a pioneer in research on the causes and prevention of foot ulcers and amputations in diabetics.

"Since he's died I've realized how important his work was," said his wife, Janice Pecoraro. She said he started a wound clinic in 1988 at the hospital and, through his work in the early treatment of leg wounds among diabetics, saw the number of amputations diminish by 20 percent.

"He was very much loved by his patients as a caring, yet forthright doctor," said Don Belcher, a friend and colleague at the veterans' hospital. "He genuinely respected people. His patients really miss him."

Almost to the time of his death he continued to work, putting together research data and writing papers, Belcher said. He recently was invited to Sweden to talk about diabetic care. "He felt it was important to keep active," said Belcher.

Dr. Pecoraro had a special love for the outdoors and was particularly fascinated with Montana history, said Belcher. In the weeks before his death colleagues would drive him home in the afternoons and he would talk about the property he owned in Eastern Washington with the old-growth timber, of Montana, of author Ivan Doig. "He was keeping the flag flying right up until the end, sharing his insights and thoughts," Belcher said.

A medical school graduate of the University of Washington, Dr. Pecoraro received a special fellowship through the National Institute of Health. He was a member of the American Diabetes Association and the Society for General Internal Medicine.

A devoted family man, Dr. Pecoraro loved to hike and fly fish with his wife and two sons. He also had a love for turquoise art and was a fan of old rock music.

A funeral Mass will be said Friday, Dec. 27, at 10 a.m. at St. Alphonsus Church in Seattle. He is survived by his wife and sons, Shannon Brook and Jesse Lauren; parents Patrick and Verle Pecoraro of Tucson, Ariz.; sisters Diane Pecoraro of Tucson and Roberta Gates of Ohio; and brother Garth Pecoraro of Tucson.

The family asks that remembrances be made to the Roger E. Pecoraro Lectureship in General Internal Medicine, administered by Stephan D. Finn, Seattle VA Medical Center, 1660 S. Columbian Way, Seattle 98108, or to the Roger E. Pecoraro Lectureship of the American Diabetes Assoc., 1660 Duke St., Alexandria, Va. 22314.