The resiliency of children buoyed the 40-year career of Liberty City pediatrician Dr. Rozalyn Paschal.
She realized her calling while studying for her medical degree at the University of Florida in 1970.
“I was comfortable with the personalities and the people who worked with children,” she told the Miami Herald in 2007. “I love how children are able to bounce right back from illnesses.”
Paschal, who died May 12 at age 68 after 10 years with muliple myeloma, loved pediatrics. She inspired her own children to follow her into the practice.
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Another admirer is the mentor who first hired Paschal. Dr. Dazelle Simpson, Miami’s first female black pediatrician, recruited Paschal into her practice right after Paschal completed her residency at the University of Miami/Jackson Medical Center in 1977.
Simpson started her clinic, one of the oldest pediatric practices in South Florida, in Liberty City in 1953. When she retired in 1995, Paschal bought the clinic, which had relocated to 7900 NW 27th Ave. Her husband, Fletcher Paschal III, left his pharmacy practice to run the business side of her clinic. That Northside Medical Office clinic is still operated by their daughter, Dr. Rozalyn Paschal-Thomas, who, like her mother, is a pediatrician.
Her twin brother, Fletcher Paschal IV, like their father, runs the business side of the clinic. Paschal also owned clinics at Jackson North Medical Center in North Miami Beach and Plantation on State Road 7. These, as well, are operated by her family.
On Paschal’s first day at work, Simpson said she told her staff, “ ‘Dr. Paschal has full authority on what she does and says.’ I didn’t want to ever hear them telling Dr. Paschal, ‘This is how Dr. Simpson practices medicine.’ They got that fact on day one, hour one.
“She was a wonderful partner, and not only a partner and associate but also a dear friend. I thought of her as the daughter I wanted but never had. Had I a daughter, I would have wanted her to be like her,” added Simpson, 92. “She was extremely talented, and it seemed, from day one, we were on the same page. I never questioned her ability.”
Paschal was born into the Hester family in Atlanta on Aug. 16, 1948. Her mother, Mary, might have been the impetus for her career because she gave her daughter a doctor play set every Christmas.
I never heard her complain about anything. Her illness was very challenging. She lost a child early and that is extremely difficult for any parent to lose a child. She reassured her husband and children. She was just that type of person. One in a million.
Dr. Dazelle Simpson on Dr. Rozalyn Paschal
In 1970, Paschal met Fletcher Paschal III, who was in his fifth year of pharmacy at the University of Florida. Five years later they married, a union that would last 42 years and produce three children.
“They loved my wife because she was such a compassionate person,” said Paschall III. “I’d tell her, ‘I don’t mind you being nice to me, but do you have to be nice to everyone?’ A salesman from an HMO would tell me, ‘When I talk to your wife I feel comfortable.’ Then they see me, Old Yeller.”
Their daughter recalled her mother’s calming presence.
“She always maintained her cool, was always positive,” Paschal-Thomas said. “Even when she became sick she’d keep a positive attitude. I cannot recall her ever being mad or upset.”
Paschal-Thomas saw her mother as a role model. “She was a pediatrician, a black female doctor. To me, that was not an unreachable goal. Then I got in the field and realized there are not many of us.”
Said son Paschal IV: “My mother was an angel, very caring, very kind, very loving. … She showed me how to care for others. She was, to me, the star of my life. Always there, always comforting.”
Paschal served as chairman of the department of pediatrics at North Shore Medical Center, sponsored Boy Scouts of America, and provided scholarships through contributions to the Community Action Foundation.
Paschal’s honors include the Miami-Dade County Black Affairs Advisory Board’s 2006 Pillars Award in healthcare, a 2013 Oscar Thomas Foundation honoree and a 2003 BellSouth African-American honoree.
“Through my years of practice,” Paschal said in the 2007 Herald article, “I try to emphasize the importance of family and raising our children to be good citizens and successful in the future.”
She’d come home and work as late as 1 in the morning to make sure everyone received proper care. I learned from her that sometimes you go further.
Fletcher Paschal IV, on his mother
Paschal’s survivors also include seven grandchildren and sisters Rosemary Bolden and Francine Woods. She was predeceased by daughter Lenora Mary Paschal Johnson. Services will be at 10 a.m. Monday at Church of the Incarnation, 1835 NW 54th St., Miami.