Roberto Rendon

Roberto Rendon MD

Sunday, March 15th, 1931 - Thursday, February 27th, 2020
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Roberto Rendón, 88, passed away peacefully with his wife Deborah by his side on February 27, 2020 after a long and fulfilling life. Above all, he cherished friendships and encouraged others to pursue their dreams. Roberto was born in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala on March 15, 1931. His father Francisco “Paco” Rendón Cervantes was a Supreme Court Justice, and his mother Olga “Mimi” Maldonado Castillo was a music teacher who inspired Roberto to play the violin and develop a passion for classical music the he enjoyed throughout his life. He survived his older brother Juan Alfredo and younger sister Estela (Hatch).
As a young student in Guatemala, Roberto learned through traditional textbooks and through the less conventional lessons experienced by those who grew up in smaller communities years ago which included building one’s school desk at the start of the school year. These lessons of resourcefulness and perseverance served Roberto well both in medical school, where he taught himself English, German and French in order to learn from the available medical textbooks, and in the field in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala where, as a young physician he directed the local hospital at the age of 22. As the sole physician for miles around, Roberto was called on to perform everything from surgeries to delivering babies.
After receiving his medical degree from the University of San Carlos in Guatemala, Roberto’s interest in pediatrics and neurology led him to the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor where he completed his residency in pediatrics and in the newly established pediatric neurology program. There, Roberto met his first wife, Joanne (Cavanaugh). Upon completing his medical studies in Ann Arbor, the couple relocated to Guatemala where they raised their children Catherine, Patrick, Mary Jo and Maria during their formative years and later in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania.
In Guatemala, Roberto joined the Rotary Club whose mission statement “to advance world understanding, goodwill and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty” captured Roberto’s lifelong commitment and beliefs. There he also founded the Instituto Neurológico de Guatemala (Neurological Institute of Guatemala) in the early 1960’s, an institute dedicated to the care of children with neurological disorders which continues to operate and carry on Roberto’s legacy to this day.
On weekends, Roberto often left Guatemala City with his family to remote villages to treat those unable to visit a physician. He often accompanied officials of US AID, helping them to establish agricultural cooperatives among indigenous farmers. He befriended many he met at the villages and at stops along the way through the simple gesture of offering a lift accompanied by conversation during the hours-long rides back to the city.
After moving to the Philadelphia area, Roberto became the Medical Director of the Woods School in Langhorne, then practiced neurology at Abington Memorial Hospital for 35 years. He worked simultaneously as an Assistance Professor of Neurology at Thomas Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia was a member of the esteemed Philadelphia Neurological Society.

Roberto maintained strong ties to his homeland by serving four decades as the Honorary Consul of Guatemala in Philadelphia and as an active member in the Consular Corps Association of Philadelphia. As Honorary Consul, Roberto helped Guatemalans establish their footing in the new land and championed their causes.
With the invaluable support of his good friends at the Rotary Club of Glenside, Roberto organized shipments of donated medical equipment to needy areas in Guatemala. His lifelong service to those in need was recognized by the Guatemalan government which bestowed on Roberto the Monja Blanca Medal which is awarded to those who provide exceptional humanitarian service to the people of Guatemala.
In retirement, Roberto rekindled his love for craftsmanship and rural living which had been imbued in him during his early years in Quetzaltenango. Far too energetic to retreat to a quiet life, Roberto and his second wife of 34 years Deborah (Halliday) lived on a small farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania which they lovingly called Milpas Altas (tall cornfields). There, they bred Babydoll Southdown Sheep while tending to horses, mules, dogs, cats and furthered their shared love of horseback riding and carriage driving. In order to preserve the beauty of Bucks County, Roberto and Deborah deed-restricted development at Milpas Altas and encouraged others in the county to follow suit with their farms so that future generations may continue to enjoy the open fields of old Bucks County.
Roberto studied wood turning and with his grandchildren milled pens in the pursuit of a favorite hobby, calligraphy. He also applied his wood working skills to everything from artwork framing to barn repairs. Roberto took on projects that included a small chapel on the farm modeled after a California mission which underscored his faith and his love for history. The chapel provided a retreat for his visitors from all walks of life and of all denominations.
During the summers, Roberto enjoyed the company and vibrancy of his grandchildren and the grandchildren of his siblings. The grandchildren descended upon Chalfont from Guatemala, Spain, Switzerland, Egypt, and other states and countries. After their daily labors, all gathered at the dinner table and Roberto prompted discussions to engender in the grandchildren differing perspectives as they pursue their life goals and aspirations.
Milpas Altas bears accents of Roberto’s indelible humor. Above the entry to his home, Roberto posted “Friends Welcome, Relatives by Appointment,” and “Happiness is an Inside Job.” His barn is adorned with handcrafted railings, handles and signs, including one that poignantly captured his belief that “No Hour of Life is Wasted That is Spent in the Saddle.” Those who saw him working in the field will recall Roberto’s love of t-shirts proudly bearing the names of his children’s and grandchildren’s schools which include Columbia, Cornell, Northeastern, Oxford, Stanford, the University of Southern California, and other colleges.
Roberto is survived by his spouse Deborah, by daughter Catherine Rendón, by the families of Patrick & Rhea (Caras) Rendón and their children Christopher and Sophia, of Xavier & Mary Jo (Rendón) Costa and their children Bruno Maria and Pau Anselm, of Renato and Maria (Rendón) Labadan and their children Beatriz and Nicholas, by former spouse Joanne, by Susana & Rigel Rendón, and by half-brothers Leonel and Luis Emilio Rendón.
A memorial service honoring and celebrating Roberto’s life HAS BEEN POSTPONED. His family sincerely thanks all fellow friends and neighbors who supported him with open hearts during his life after having suffered strokes. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations in his memory to one of his favorite projects, Rotary International’s Global Polio Eradication Initiative at where the donations are tripled by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.
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    Rev. Joseph Howarth



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John Sweeney

Posted at 10:07am
Debby and Family,

I am sorry for your loss. He was a great guy. Full of life and certainly very opinionated. Someone who gave more than he ever took. Larger than life personality. Please take care, and hope to see you at the service whenever it’s rescheduled.

John sweeney


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