Francis Saunders

Obituary of Francis Peter Saunders

Francis P. Saunders, MD

15 August, 1932 - 17 December, 2023


Francis Peter Saunders, MD, passed away peacefully at his home in Mukilteo, Washington, Sunday, December 17, surrounded by family. Francis, also known as Fran, Frank, Franny, and Dr. Saunders, was a proud and proper gentleman, a devoted husband and father, a skilled orthopedic surgeon, an avid fly-fisherman and gardener, an intrepid driftwood sculptor, and a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan (not necessarily in that order). He was 91 years old.


Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Francis was adopted by Edmund Jeremiah “Jeppy” Saunders and Mary (Duffy) Saunders as an infant, though he would, with a wink, often recount the hardships he endured over the weeks spent in an orphanage. He grew up in Quincy, MA, an athletic, intelligent boy, tall and skinny, playing baseball and basketball, running track, working a paper route, and collecting scrap and salvage, memorizing aircraft profiles for the war effort. He graduated from Boston College High School and Boston College, Magna Cum Laude, before earning his medical degree, Cum Laude, from Boston University. He worked his way through college and medical school delivering milk, pumping gas, and scraping paint off ships at the Fore River shipyard.


After medical school Frank trained at Boston City Hospital and Massachusetts Memorial Hospital in Boston, the Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital in Hanover, New Hampshire, and the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopedic Hospital in Gobowen, Oswestry, UK. He served as a naval surgeon in the United States Navy from 1959 - 1961, deployed throughout the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Middle East. He married his wife, Lydia (Tenaglia), in 1961, having been introduced to her by his friend and medical school classmate, her brother, Dr. Alfred Tenaglia. After completing a rotation in children’s orthopedics at the Newington Children’s Hospital in Newington, Connecticut, Dr. Saunders joined Danbury Orthopedics Associates in Danbury, CT, working out of Danbury Hospital, where he practiced for more than thirty years. He continued to consult at the Newington Children’s Hospital for most of his career.


Fran was relentlessly active, working hard professionally and at home, regularly playing tennis as long as he could, then throwing himself into fly-fishing, a pursuit he followed virtually the entire length of the Americas, from Alaska, through the Yucatán, to Tierra del Fuego, and around the world to New Zealand. Franny retired to Sequim, Washington, where he volunteered with the St. Vincent de Paul Society and took up driftwood sculpting, working on massive found pieces in the solitude of his garage while Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me played on a constant loop. As age deprived him of easy mobility, he read voraciously and studied the birds who would visit at his window. He will be remembered for his drive and his generosity, his dry sense of humor (always betrayed by a twinkle in his eye), his devotion to his family (as well as the aforementioned Boston Red Sox, and not to mention the New England Patriots), his constant strength, and his deep sense of gratitude for his good fortune, even through many struggles.


In addition to Lydia, his wife of 62 years, Francis is survived by his sons Scott and Brian, his daughter-in-law Karyn, his brother Gerald, and Rocky, his favorite, as well as many nieces, nephews, and in-laws.


In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to Doctors Without Borders


Share Your Memory of