Stephen J. Kunitz

Born June 3, 1938 to Joshua & Rae Kunitz in Greenwich Village, NYC. Steve died at home in Rochester, NY on April 5, 2018. Steve grew up in New York City attending Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School. He graduated with a BA from Yale University in 1960 and an MD from the University of Rochester Medical School in 1964. He served for two years as a medical officer at the Indian Health Service hospital in Tuba City, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation, and returned to Yale University to obtain a Master’s Degree in 1968 and a PhD in Sociology in 1970.

Steve spent his career teaching at the University of Rochester Medical School while also writing more than 80 academic journal articles and 8 books; conducting research in Arizona, New Mexico, Yugoslavia, England, Australia, New Zealand, the Polynesian Islands, and other locations. His research was on several related topics perhaps best described as the sociology of medical knowledge, the history of medicine, and the relationship between social change and morbidity and mortality. He received countless awards and guest appointments. Perhaps the most important outcome of his studies and interests was the development of close and life-long friendships worldwide.

Steve is survived by his wife of 55 years, Isadora Derow Kunitz, son Daniel Kunitz (wife Danielle), daughter Lisa Kunitz Getz (husband Marc), beloved grandchildren, Joseph and Rachel Kunitz; and a large extended family including many cousins.

Steve’s life was marked by an insatiable intellectual curiosity; a love of family and friends; wanderlust; and in more recent years an absolute and unconditional love for his grandchildren. In addition he will be remembered for a dry sense of humor (and dry martinis); puns; a love of opera and classical music; and a love of books and current events. His retirement years were spent in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Canadice, New York where he was an active gardener and continued to read, write, and pursue new interests. As his health declined he continued an avid interest in books, music, history, politics, and greatly enjoyed lengthy correspondences and visits from family and friends.

A Memorial Gathering will be held on Saturday, April 21st at 1:00 p.m. in the Parks Room of Chestnut Court at St. John’s Meadows, 1 Johnsarbor Drive West, Rochester, NY 14620. Donations to honor Steve’s memory may be made to the ACLU ( or International Rescue Committee ( To leave an online condolence, please visit: Miller of Rochester.