May 5, 1920 ~ August 12, 2008
Michael W Lau
May 5, 1920 - August 12, 2008
Dr. Michael Willis Lau passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, August 12 in the company of his son Clinton. Dr. Lau, a retired urologist, surgeon and Navy Captain, was a long time resident of Hancock Park in Los Angeles where he and his family moved in 1960. Dr. Lau was married for over fifty-five years to Marjorie (Jeri) Hernandez Lau who passed away in November 2007. Dr. Lau is survived by his three children Michael, Marjorie and Clinton; his five grand-children Cisco, Peter, Erica, Duncan and Michael. He is also survived by his daughters in law Claudia and Melissa. A great father and grandfather, he is deeply missed by each.
Dr. Lau, the son of Dr. Fredrick Talmadge Lau also a urologist and Amyce Leafe Lau a registered nurse, was born in New York City. He and his sister Barbara grew up in Bronxville, NY in Westchester County. He attended the Bronxville School from kindergarten through his graduation from high school. The Lau family summered in Kingsville, Ontario on the shore of Lake Erie. Dr. Lau was eleven years old when his father passed away in 1931. At that young age, and just at the onset of the great depression, young Mike stepped into a leadership role and helped his mother with the family and the raising of his younger sister. During his summers young Mike developed a love for the water and the seas. As a young teenager, he signed on as a dishwasher on a Great Lakes freighter, the first of many seagoing ventures throughout his life.
The future Dr. Lau attended Washington and Lee University, was a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and graduated in 1941. Following graduation, he joined the U.S. Navy and then continued his education at the Yale School of Medicine. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant Junior Grade and joined the U.S.N.R Medical Corp. His tours of duty included deployment as the ship's surgeon on the U.S.S. Columbus in the Far East with ports of call that included Shanghai and other Chinese cities during the turbulent post war period.
Following his tours with the Navy, Dr. Lau completed his internship and surgical residency in urology at Bellevue hospital in New York City. During his residency, he took the opportunity to use his limited time off to sign on as ship's surgeon for the Grace Line. He made a number of voyages on the line's combination freighter/passenger liners to the Caribbean and through the Panama Canal and down the west coast of South America. He enjoyed a number of adventures in Ecuador, Peru and Chile. While completing his residency he also met his wife-to-be, Jeri, "under-the-clock" in the old Biltmore Hotel in New York where she had been dining with Dr. Lau's mother and sister. He fell deeply in love, and they were married in 1952.
Dr. Lau began practicing urology in White Plains NY, but soon after moved with his bride to Beverly Hills California. In 1960 they moved again to their home in Hancock Park where they raised their children and lived for over forty-seven years. They made their house a wonderful home for their family, and a gathering place for their and their children's friends. The Lau house was the center of many activities and a home away from home for the children and later young adults of the neighborhood. Dr. Lau and Jeri were always ready to lend a helping hand wherever and whenever needed. Dr. Lau was always happy to use his medical expertise as friend and advisor. He performed minor treatments at home when required, and was known for keeping an extra set of sutures in the house. Many a neighborhood child, or later young adult, was stitched up right in the kitchen or bathroom.
Dr. Lau was well known and respected in the Los Angeles medical community and by his many patients. His bedside manner was that of a classic small town physician but applied in a large city. He was available night and day to his patients and always ready to offer treatment, unhurried explanations or just comfort. Dr. Lau was on the staff of a number of hospitals for over forty years including the Good Samaritan Hospital, Saint Vincent's Medical Center, Saint Joseph's Hospital and The Los Angeles County Hospital. He also was a member of the University of Southern California medical faculty. He is succeeded in the medical profession by his daughter Marjorie, an acupuncturist practicing on Martha's Vineyard Island.
Dr. Lau was a true patriot. He loved his country and was always prepared to serve. In 1965 he volunteered to go to Viet Nam with the Navy but did not have a long enough vacation for a proper tour. Instead, he paid his own way to Saigon and served as a civilian. After a brief stint working in the Saigon Naval Hospital, he traveled with the Marines to De Nang and eventually ended up at an A Camp with the Special Forces. Dr. Lau retired from the Navy as a Captain in 1975.
Dr. Lau was a great husband and father. He lived selflessly and with the highest of ethical standards. He provided his children with every advantage and always stood ready to offer support. He led by example, but did not force his opinions on others. His love for his family was unfailing and he stood by his children as they each passed through the many trials and tribulations of growing up.
Dr. Lau will be missed by many. He was a great patriot, physician, friend, husband and father. It is with sadness that his friends and loved ones say good bye to his physical presence, but it is with happiness that they know his spirit will live on with each of them.
Services for Dr. Lau are scheduled as follows: Wednesday, August 20, 2008 at 3:00 pm at Saint James Episcopal Church, 3903 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, California 90010. www.saintjamesla.org +1.213.388.3417
In lieu of flowers, the Lau family requests that donations be made to: The Good Samaritan Hospital, 616 Witmer Street
Los Angeles, CA 90017. www.goodsam.org +1.213.977.2121.
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