Cover photo for Rudolf J. Utzschneider's Obituary
Rudolf J. Utzschneider Profile Photo
1930 Rudy Utzschneider 2023

Rudolf J. Utzschneider

March 28, 1930 — January 12, 2023

Shrewsbury, MA

Shrewsbury – Dr. Rudolf Jakob “Rudy” Utzschneider MD, affectionately known as "Opa," passed away at home in Shrewsbury, MA, with his loving family by his side on January 12th, 2023.

Born in Munich, Germany on March 28, 1930, Rudy and his older sister Rita were raised in Bavaria by their parents Erna and Leo Utzschneider. As a child during WWII, he hid in basements during bombing raids, and moved schools many times.

Amid great hardship, Rudy discovered a passion for medicine. At 18, he entered medical school, and five years later he graduated a summa cum laude MD from the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich. In 1954, he was awarded an internship in the US and trained at the Elizabeth NJ General Hospital, where he found his vocation: surgery. He also met a smart and witty young nurse anesthetist from the Bronx.  Within a day of their meeting, he knew Patricia “Pat” Edridge would be the love of his life. A year later, they married. They spent a year in Germany before settling in Worcester, where Rudy began a residency in general surgery at Saint Vincent Hospital.

In 1960, Rudy and Pat moved to Shrewsbury, where they lived for 60 years and raised nine children. Their home on Prospect Street was boisterous and full of energy, projects, books, music, and most of all, their big and growing family, which included his beloved mother-in-law “Grammy”. Rudy presided over lively family meals, discussing history and music, sharing childhood stories, refereeing his rambunctious offspring and assigning the next day’s chores. The children embraced his Bavarian heritage, visiting his mother “Bom-Bom” in Munich, and helping to host Oktoberfest pig roasts. Rudy and Pat loved listening to opera, classical music, and jazz, and Rudy was an accomplished pianist and sax player. Rudy and Pat also loved to dance. The whole family joined Rudy and Pat as parishioners at St. Mary’s Church for 60 years.

As Rudy’s family grew, so did his career. He practiced general and vascular surgery at Saint Vincent Hospital for almost 40 years, where he served in numerous leadership roles, including Member of the Executive Committee and Chief of Staff. He loved teaching and served as Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. In 1960, Rudy became the sixth physician to join the Fallon Clinic, a Worcester HMO, and for 22 years he helped grow the organization to over 200 physicians, and served as treasurer. In 1982, Rudy and Pat decided to build their own private practice from the ground up.  Despite the risks, their practice thrived, and they opened offices in both Worcester and Clinton. Rudy retired from private practice in 1998.

In 1989, Rudy was elected Chair of the Board of Central Massachusetts Health Care, Inc., a physician-initiated, not-for-profit HMO, where he played a critical role in their mission – serving the health needs of the local community. He helped start the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts, where he served as a Founding Director.

As a surgeon, Rudy developed a reputation for integrity, technical skill, and deep empathy and advocacy for his patients. In his life-long effort to improve his patients’ outcomes, he pioneered new surgical techniques and was an early proponent of the multidisciplinary team approach to patient care. He trained and mentored hundreds of surgeons and young physicians. His work saved thousands of lives, and his patients often thanked him during chance encounters after Mass or in the aisles of local stores. He was, in the words of a colleague, “a giant” of the Worcester medical community.

The focus, dedication, and dexterity that made Rudy an exceptional surgeon also made him a prolific woodworker.  The tables, bureaus, beds, and benches he designed and built are treasured by his family and friends. He mentored his children and grandchildren in his workshop, teaching them how to measure, cut, glue, sand, and varnish. Rudy always whistled while he worked, content to be working with his hands, making gifts for the people he loved.

He also loved “messing around with boats”. Rudy and Pat’s six decades on the water together involved eight boats.  Based primarily out of Newport, R.I., Rudy and Pat sailed the waters of New England, first with their children and later on their own, spending hundreds of nights at anchor in Narragansett Bay, Block Island, Cuttyhunk, Downeast Maine, and reaching as far as Nova Scotia and Quebec.  In later years they cruised down to Florida and the Bahamas on a six-month voyage. Rudy developed an encyclopedic knowledge of boat design and maritime history, and he did most of his own maintenance. A boat was the perfect vehicle to bring together many of his passions: a sense of adventure, navigating towards a goal, dealing with the unexpected, working together with family, teaching, and working with his hands.

Throughout their 65-year marriage Rudy and Pat focused on family, community and service, which Rudy carried on after Pat’s death in December 2020. 

Rudy and Pat are survived by their nine children: Susanne M. Boeke (Jef) of New York City, Robert L. (Catharine) of Chestnut Hill, Richard T. (Sigrid) of Einberg, Germany, John R. (Alice Eng) of Northborough, James M. (Jenna Miller) of Seattle, David A. (Gordana) of Baltimore MD, Patricia M. Kinsella of Northfield MA, Lisa M. (Okan Azmak) of Greenwich, CT and Peter B. (Adrienne Sutton) of Northborough; twenty-six loving grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Family and friends will honor and remember Rudy’s life by gathering on Saturday, February 11, 2023 at Saint Mary’s Church, 640 Main Street, where his funeral Mass will celebrated at 10 a.m.  Burial will follow at Mountain View Cemetery.  There are no calling hours.

Those wishing to view the broadcast, or recording, of Rudy’s funeral Mass please use the following link: Rudolf Utzschneider Obituary (2023) - Waltham, Massachusetts (

Expressions of sympathy may be made to The Health Foundation Fund, Inc., 446 Main Street, 20th Floor, Worcester, MA 01608 or

Arrangements by James & John Heald of The Joyce Funeral Home, 245 Main Street, Waltham.




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