John T. Sack ’62 died on February 3, 2023, in Seattle, Washington.
(The following was provided by the Seattle Times on February 15, 2023)
Dr. John Thomas Sack of Seattle died peacefully in his sleep on February 3, 2023.
John was born September 17, 1940, in Philadelphia, the second of four children of Mary Berry Thomas Sack and Bernhard Albert Sack. As a youth he developed lifelong passions for model trains, woodworking, and rowing racing shells. John graduated from the Haverford School in 1958 and Bowdoin College in 1962. He completed his M.D. at Thomas Jefferson University in 1966, and interned at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Dr. Sack then served two years as a captain in the Navy, first in Vietnam, where he was awarded a Purple Heart, and then at the Naval Hospital in Bremerton. Between 1969 and 1973 he was an orthopedic surgery resident at the University of Pennsylvania. He then spent a year as a Fellow at the University of Edinburgh studying hand surgery. In 1974 he moved to Tacoma General Hospital, and in 1977 joined the Seattle Hand Surgery Group and was clinical faculty of the University of Washington Medical Center.
As an orthopedic replant specialist, Dr. Sack pioneered new techniques and completed over 160 replant surgeries that saved many fingers and livelihoods for his patients – including a replant together with his partner in 1978 of eight severed fingers – a medical first. A dedicated surgeon and teacher, he logged the most hours on call in the history of University of Washington Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. He was instrumental in training seventy-six hand fellows and hundreds of orthopedic residents, receiving four teaching awards during his tenure. Upon his retirement, the Department endowed an annual John T. Sack Lecture.
In his ‘spare’ time John was an avid rower, mountaineer, and builder.
His rowing career began at the Haverford School, where his quad won the schoolboy nationals. He continued rowing with the Undine Barge Club throughout his time in Pennsylvania, winning many national championships, and helped coach the University of Pennsylvania crew. In Seattle, he was a proud member of the rowing community, rising most mornings before dawn to row out of the Lake Washington Rowing Club and the UW Canoe House, and personally helped to build the current LWRC boathouse. He cherished his time on the water where he forged many lifelong friendships.
A skilled climber, John was drawn to the mountains. He enjoyed cross-country skiing and hiking and summited Mt. Rainier multiple times and many other volcanic promontories in the Northwest with his friends and family. His love of the mountains was rivaled only by his deep affection for blackberry pie with vanilla ice cream.
John’s pride and sanctuary is at Clear Lake, outside of Eatonville in Pierce County. There he spent countless days with his beloved uncles, John Berry Thomas and Jesse Olmsted Thomas. With the help of friends and family, John designed and hand-built a strikingly original series of timber frame cabins at Clear Lake. Many joyous weekends and summer vacations were spent there working on the cabins, fishing, rowing, and swimming.
In 1974 John married Caroline Ann Meeks, and they had three children: Jon Thomas Sack, Mary Caroline Sack, and Richard Bernhard Sack. In 1985 he married Sharon Coshow Soderstrom. Her children, Kirsten Ann Brockman and Erick James Soderstrom, became a part of their family. Sharon and John shared a beautiful 34 years until Sharon passed in 2018. Over the years, his growing brood of grandchildren – Hannah, Bella, Ellis, Alice, Caiohme, Ivo, Henry, Miles, and Andrew – joined in the revelries. The cabins at Clear Lake are a treasured family gathering place.