SocialMiami Remembers: Eugene J. Sayfie, MD

The physician measured life by two standards: Whether you enjoyed the journey and did you make a difference to others along the way

Some say no one is perfect, but the multitudes who knew Dr. Eugene J. Sayfie would argue otherwise. An old-fashioned doctor with a cutting-edge mind, Dr. Sayfie left every place he visited and every person he met better than he found them. He carried his doctor’s black bag with him everywhere and was rarely seen without a stethoscope around his neck. Every patient had his personal cell phone number and he never knew the meaning of ‘working hours’ because he was always on call, for anyone in need, meeting each person on his path with enthusiasm, optimism and a readiness to help in any way he could. Dr. Sayfie measured life by two standards: the first- whether you enjoyed the journey, and the second- did you make a difference to others along the way. Dr. Sayfie exceeded all measures on both. Dr. Sayfie’s greatest passions were his loving family, his practice of medicine, his devoted faith, humanitarianism, excellence in education and philanthropy. Everyone left his side feeling better about the world and better about themselves. His optimism and enthusiasm were infectious and will be an enormous part of his legacy. One of his favorite quotes was “Carpe Diem.”

Eugene J. Sayfie was born in Charleston, West Virginia to Lebanese immigrant parents. At five years old, he started working alongside his older brother selling newspapers and from that day forward, he never stopped. Eugene lost both his father and stepfather before age 10 and was raised with his sister Ernestine and brothers Ernest and Russell by their Mother Selma and their Aunt Mary. An exceptional student and avid athlete (known as “machine-gun Sayfie” for his proclivity on the basketball court,) he excelled in every endeavor throughout high school and college, graduating Phi Beta Kappa from West Virginia University. He was awarded a scholarship to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis where he graduated second in his class. His ascent in the medical field continued as he completed residencies in Internal Medicine at the Harvard Medical School Services at Boston City Hospital and at the University Hospital of Cleveland, followed by a Cardiology fellowship at the latter institution.

Dr. Eugene Sayfie, Suzie Sayfie, Stephanie Sayfie Aagaard

He often quoted Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, “Work is love made visible” and he was renowned for his steadfast commitment to his patients and his incomparable work ethic. “My view has always been that we are here to serve the patient first and foremost,” said Dr. Sayfie at the dedication of The Eugene J. Sayfie, M.D., Pavilion for Excellence in Patient Care at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The Eugene J. Sayfie, M.D., Pavilion for Excellence in Patient Care is a comprehensive care facility founded by Dr. Sayfie where the philosophy developed by him throughout his decades in medical practice, makes patients collaborative participants in their care. Dr. Sayfie received the inaugural Distinguished Master Clinician Award presented by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine which is awarded to a top Miller School clinician who exemplifies excellence in patient care.

He and his wife Suzie were engaged after only eleven dates over three months. It was love at first sight for both of them. They have been married for 51 years and all who know them consider their relationship a fairytale love story for the ages. They did everything together. They traveled the world and took their four daughters Stephanie, Nicole, Lisa and Amy with them. There have never been more devoted parents attending every school event for their children together at Ransom Everglades School where Dr. Sayfie served on the Board of Trustees. They were regulars on campus and in the sports stands where Dr. Sayfie was the biggest fan for his girls. This year, both Dr. Sayfie and his wife Suzie were proud to be named Grandparents Chairs for Ransom where their grandchildren now attend. He was also a huge fan of his hometown teams, the Miami HEAT and Miami Dolphins.

Dr. Eugene Sayfie (right) being presented award by Dean Pascal Goldschmidt (University of Miami Miller School of Medicine)

A practicing physician since 1960, Dr. Sayfie has been lauded for his practice, his academic contributions and his tenacious and persistent pursuit of knowledge. He was a multidisciplinary fellow, held several professorship positions in addition to his medical practice including but not limited to an Attending Physician in Cardiology and Internal Medicine, University of Miami Hospital, University of Miami Leonard Miller School of Medicine, Attending Physician in Cardiology and Internal Medicine, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Attending Physician in Cardiology and Internal Medicine, Aventura Hospital, Chairman, Department of Cardiovascular Diseases, Miami Heart Institute, Chairman, Department of Medicine, Miami Heart Institute, President, Medical Staff, Miami Heart Institute, Attending Physician in Cardiology and Internal Medicine, Miami Heart Institute, Attending Physician, Courtesy Staff, Jackson Memorial Hospital Staff, and most recently as a concierge Doctor of Cardiology and Internal Medicine, Board Certified in both Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease, at Mount Sinai Medical Center on Miami Beach, where all of four of his daughters were born.

Dr. Sayfie has been celebrated and honored with countless awards for his relentless service to his community, including but not limited to the following: Inaugural Distinguished Master Clinician Award recipient from University of Miami Miller School Of Medicine; Robert Zeppa Award of Excellence from Jackson Memorial Hospital; Sunrisers Home Top Ten Men of the Year; March of Dimes Outstanding Philanthropic Couple; Ronald McDonald House Twelve Outstanding Men; Gold Antonian Medal of Honor from the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America; Who’s Who in Medicine; Miami Heart Institute’s Builders Award; Miami Heart Institute’s Hall of Fame; The Eugene J. Sayfie Library at St. George Orthodox Cathedral; St. George Cathedral Gold Medal Service Award; Outstanding 100 Doctors in America; Women of Tomorrow Humanitarian of the Year; American Cancer Society Outstanding Couple; Knight Commander of The Order of St. Ignatius. Most recently he received the Inaugural Visionary Award from the Frost Museum of Science.

Stanley Whitman with Suzie Sayfie and Dr. Eugene Sayfie

Dr. Sayfie offered unwavering leadership and support of health organizations, hospitals, the arts, his children’s schools, and his parish church. His dedicated involvement has impacted the lives of many individuals. He has served as President / Chairman and/or Committee Member for the following organizations: President of the Heart Association of Greater Miami, Heart Association Ball Chairman, Grand Prix of Miami Heart Association Event Co-Chairman, Cat Cay Heart Association Yacht Rendezvous Chairman, President of the Medical Staff of the Miami Heart Institute, Committee of 100, St. Jude Children’s Hospital South Florida Committee, Performing Arts Center Opening Committee, American Cancer Society Board and Cattle Baron Ball Committee, Miami Heart Institute Second Generation Advisor, Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America Board of Trustees and Convention Chairman, Ransom Everglades School Board of Trustees, Benefactor, Athletic Building Committee, Breakthrough Miami Board, Boston College Parents Guild, Reception Host for President, Miami Heart Research Institute Board of Trustees and Ball Chairman, Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, National Projects Committee of the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. George Cathedral Parish Council Chairman, Project Newborn’s “Peace of the East” Chairman among others.

Dr. Eugene J. Sayfie was a loving husband, father, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend. He is survived by his wife Suzie Sayfie, his four daughters, Stephanie Sayfie Aagaard, Nicole Sayfie Porcelli, Lisa Sayfie, Amy Sayfie Zichella, his grandchildren Anders, Austin, Jordan, Leonardo, Enzo, Bella, Phia, Abigail and Ava, his sons-in-love Morten, Marcello, and Eric, his family members Ernestine and Louie Ede, Judy Sayfie, Russell and Helene Bassett, Helen Stephan and Renee and Rick Kuci and their families.

Dr. Eugene J. Sayfie passed away Saturday, May 23rd at 8:45am. The family has requested in lieu of flowers or other gifts, donations may be made to one of the following organizations which Dr. Sayfie loved so passionately:
Gifts In Memory of Dr. Eugene Sayfie to

Mount Sinai Medical Center Foundation
In Honor of Dr. Eugene J. Sayfie
4300 Alton Road, Suite 100
Miami Beach, FL. 33140
Attn: Dena Willman

Ransom Everglades School:
Mail to: Ransom Everglades School, 3575 Main Highway, Coconut Grove, FL 33133, Attention Advancement Office
Online: www.ransomeverglades.org/make-a-gift

St. George Cathedral: Dr. Eugene J. Sayfie Scholarship Program
c/o Father Joseph Aboud
320 Palermo Avenue
Coral Gables, FL 33134

The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis in honor of Dr. Eugene J. Sayfie
Attn: Marc Buoniconti & Dr. Barth Green
1095 NW 14th Terrace
Lois Pope LIFE Center
Miami, FL 33136

The article was provided to SocialMiami by Stephanie Sayfie Aagaard.