Dr. A. Richard Grossman, founder of California burn center, dies

March 15, 2014 at 2:57 PM
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LOS ANGELES, March 15 (UPI) -- Dr. A. Richard Grossman, a plastic surgeon known for his work with burn patients, has died at his home in the Los Angeles area. He was 81.

Grossman's sudden death Thursday was announced by his wife, the Los Angeles Times reported. The cause has not been determined.

Grossman founded what became known as the Grossman Burn Center at Sherman Oaks Hospital in the late 1960s. The center moved to West Hills Hospital and Medical Center in 2010, and there are also centers in Bakersfield, Calif., Kansas City, Mo., and Phoenix.

In a 1992 interview, Grossman told the Times he was inspired to work with burn patients by a parochial school fire in Chicago, where he was an emergency room doctor at the Cook County Hospital in 1958.

"I had to count 98 children, all suffocated or burned to death. The catastrophe indelibly stayed in my mind," he said.

Grossman said his medical work was "a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" life, with a private practice of elective cosmetic surgery and hospital work with patients disfigured by burns.

His patients included Richard Pryor, the movie star badly burned in 1980 while freebasing cocaine. He also treated firefighters injured on the job, survivors of plane crashes and other burn victims.

Grossman, who was married four times and divorced three, is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, his son, Peter, a doctor who now heads the burn center, and another son, Jeffrey of New York.

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