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Harry K. Genant


It is with great sadness that we announce the unexpected passing of Harry K. Genant on January 14, 2021, at the age of 78, the result of a massive stroke. Harry was renowned as an energetic and brilliant physician-scientist who helped lead the field of musculoskeletal radiology for almost 50 years, yet he will be remembered by us foremost as a devoted husband, a loving father, and a dear friend to many in the Tiburon community and across the globe.


Harry was born in Freeport, Illinois, on August 14, 1942, third child of Helen and Harry K. Genant Sr. He grew up outside Chicago, where he excelled in sports and student government at Riverside-Brookfield High School. He had dreams of becoming an astronaut and was admitted to the Air Force Academy. However, after basic training, he shifted his focus to medicine and pursued an accelerated pre-med program at the University of Illinois (’60-’63), followed by Northwestern University Medical School (’63-’68), where he met his wife, Gail, also a medical student at Northwestern. They married in 1968.


Harry completed his radiology residency at University of Chicago, and in 1974 he moved his family to California (Tiburon) to become chief of Musculoskeletal Radiology at University of California, San Francisco. Over his 30+ year career at UCSF, Harry was known for his prolific research, his clinical expertise, and his skillful lecturing abilities. He mentored dozens of clinical and research fellows, many of whom went on to become leaders in their fields. His fellows have often credited his guidance and support as a source of their success. His engaging and sociable manner, his generous hosting of gatherings at radiology meetings and at his home in Tiburon, and his impeccable sense of style, also left lasting impressions.


Harry’s many professional achievements are listed in detail elsewhere but highlights include: founding the Osteoporosis and Arthritis Research Group (OARG) at UCSF, being a founding member in 1977 of the International Skeletal Society and serving as its president in 2004, receiving the Medal of Achievement from the International Osteoporosis Foundation, serving as president of the Association of University Radiologists, delivering the annual oration in 2004 at the Radiological Society of North America annual meeting, and serving as chair of the WHO Task Force in Osteoporosis. Harry authored and/or edited over 40 books, 300 chapters, 600 articles, and 1,500 abstracts. His entrepreneurial spirit was evident in his cofounding of Synarc, which he helped shape into a leading global contract research organization specializing in the use of quantitative imaging and biomarkers in large pharmaceutical drug trials.


Outside of work, Harry was a remarkable athlete and always active. For years, he could be spotted every morning on his runs along the bike path. He enjoyed swimming, biking, skiing, and hiking. He completed the 1982 Hawaii Ironman Triathlon, as well as several marathons and road races, many with his son Jonathan. He also loved international travel and exploring new places, frequently sharing those experiences through the many wonderful photos he posted to Facebook.


In Tiburon, Harry was a constant fixture at his children’s extra-curricular activities, ever supportive and enthusiastic. He was affectionately dubbed “Dr. Soccer” for the years of coaching his kids’ soccer teams and serving as commissioner of the Tiburon Peninsula Soccer League. During Tiburon Peninsula Club swim meets, Harry could be found poolside as the starter, with cap gun in hand. He took an old-fashioned view on pre-race snacks and campaigned to keep doughnuts and Coca-Cola available at the snack bar, earning the cheer of all the kids. He was charismatic, approachable, and consistently curious about others’ lives.


Family was of the utmost importance to Harry. In addition to being a vital part of his own children’s lives, he adored spending time with his grandchildren: Caden (18), Lily (15), Bryce (9), Hunter (10), and Asher (5). He taught them swimming and soccer lessons and led them on hikes throughout Marin. He encouraged them all to dream big, like he had, and to pursue their goals with hard work, energy, and optimism.


Harry is survived by his wife of 52 years, Gail, their children Laura, Justin, and Jonathan; his sister Judy Jaglin of Chicago; his five grandchildren; and his beloved dog, Lucy. He is predeceased by his sister Jewel Verell.


We have no words to express how much he will be missed, but we can take some solace in knowing that Harry lived a rich, fulfilling life and had a positive impact on so many.


A celebration of Harry’s life will be planned for a later date. Memorial donations may be made to the American Stroke Association, the Humane Society, or KQED.

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