Robert L. Corn – Colonel, United States Army

From a contemporary press report: September 28, 2000

When Dr. Robert L. Corn, a Bellport thoracic and general surgeon, returned to the Army at age 57, nearly 400 friends, colleagues and former patients saluted him at a farewell party in Patchogue.

“More people wanted to come but couldn't be accommodated,” said his son, Army Capt. Gary Philip-Matthew Corn of El Paso, Texas. “He was so highly respected and loved.” Corn, who served in the Army as chief of surgery in Belgium, died Monday of pancreatic cancer in Williamsburg Community Hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia. He was 70.

During his 24 years as a Long Island surgeon, he treated Richard Cope, the first Long Island man to get a heart transplant in 1970. The two became close friends.

“He was indeed a pioneering surgeon,” said Thomas Ockers, president and chief executive of Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center. “He was a prominent member of our medical staff who was held in high regard.” Corn also served on the South Country Central school board in the 1980s and was a sports physician for Bellport High School football teams, on which four of his five sons played.

“To this day I have daily comments from former patients attesting to his skill and compassion. He had a wonderful heart,” said Richard Rubenstein, a surgeon who was recruited by Corn to replace him in the Suffolk Surgical Group (now called Caremax Surgical) when Corn retired from private practice with the East Patchogue-based group in 1987.

During seven years as an Army colonel, he served with the 7th Medical Command as chief of surgery at a SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) hospital in Mons, Belgium. He also served as an Army surgeon in Honduras and at two U.S. bases. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.

Corn's previous service had been a two-year hitch as an Army captain beginning in 1957. He also volunteered for a special assignment during the Gulf War. He retired to Williamsburg after his honorable discharge in 1994.

Corn was born in Floral Park, New York, where his father, Philip Corn, was a longtime doctor and surgeon. He graduated in 1947 from Sewanhaka High School, where he played and starred in lacrosse. At Adelphi College, where he earned a
bachelor's degree in 1951, he co-founded a lacrosse team and was a high-scoring player. He was remembered for having scored two goals in a winning game against Princeton.

After graduating from New York University College of Medicine, he served his internship and first residency at Bellevue Hospital, where he had a clinical teaching position. He served a two-year Army stint and returned to Bellevue for his surgical residency. He later completed a residency in thoracic surgery at the Queens Hospital Center.

He married the former Patricia Ryan in Manhattan in 1957.

“A lot of fathers decide what they want for their children, whether or not it fits the individual child. My father was the opposite,” said his son, Gary.

“He loved the talent of each child and always encouraged and supported us in whatever we wanted to do.” “He was a good person in every possible way,” said his brother-in-law, Lester Arstark of Roslyn village. An active fund raiser for the hospital and community charities, he organized benefit golf tournaments at the Bellport Country Club, where he was an enthusiastic golfer. He was recently honored by the Kiwanis International organization.

As a Long Island physician, Corn was a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, a diplomate of the American Board of Surgery and the Board of Thoracic Surgery and a member of the American Thoracic Society, the Suffolk County Medical Society and the Eastern Long Island Surgical Society.

Besides his wife and son, he is survived by four other sons, Gregory Asher Corn of Shirley, Army Maj. Geoffrey Steven Corn of Fort Leavenworth, Kan., Glenn Andrew Corn of Ankara, Turkey, and Gavin Alexander Corn of Arlington, Va.; two sisters, Janice Arstark of Roslyn village and Constance Permut of Kings Point; a brother, Ronald Corn of Enfield, Conn.; and nine grandchildren.

The family will receive visitors at Nelsen Funeral Home in Williamsburg tomorrow from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturday 1 to 3 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, and interment will be in Arlington National Cemetery.

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