Dr. Robert J. Novak, Riverside's 'town doc' dies at 82

Practiced medicine for more than 30 years


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By Bob Uphues


Dr. Robert J. Novak, who practiced medicine in Riverside for more than 30 years and was known affectionately as "Dr. Bob," Riverside Township's unofficial "town doc," died Dec. 28, 2012 at the age of 82.

Dr. Novak lived in the Riverside are for his entire life. He was born Oct. 16, 1930 to Albert and Bohumila Novak, both first generation Czech immigrants who lived in Riverside Lawn. His father was a World War I veteran and worked as an accountant for Sears. His mother worked at the Western Electric Company in Cicero.

He attended Central School and Hauser Junior High School in Riverside. Dr. Novak's father died when he was 13. He boarded at St. Procopius School in Lisle for both high school and college, and then attended Loyola University's Stritch School of Medicine, receiving his M.D. in 1959.

Dr. Novak married Marjorie Ann Licar of Berwyn on June 7, 1958 at Our Lady of the Mount Church in Cicero. He joined the medical practice of Dr. George Barnett before establishing his own medical office in Riverside.

Throughout his medical career, Dr. Novak was affiliated with MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, where he served as president of the medical-dental staff in 1973-74 and 1981-82. He was also research director of its Family Practice Center. In addition, for 30 years, Dr. Novak ran the Well Baby Clinic in Lyons.

He retired from active medical practice in 1992, but remained committed to the health and well-being of Riverside Township residents, particularly its senior citizens. He conducted a monthly blood pressure clinic at the Riverside Township Hall. For 30 years he also ran a Well Baby Clinic in Lyons.

Dr. Novak was involved in many activities and organizations outside of his practice of medicine. He was an active member of St. Mary Parish in Riverside, where he was part of a group that wrote the by-laws for the original parish council.

An avid musician, he played the clarinet and piano and fronted a jazz band called The Solitaires, which played throughout the region. More recently he was a founding member of the Chicagoland Big Band Jazz Society, which hosted monthly performances at FitzGerald's nightclub in Berwyn.

Dr. Novak was also active in Riverside as a chairman of the Riverside Economic Development Commission and founder of the Our Town Project. In the mid-1990s, Dr. Novak was instrumental in expanding the village of Riverside's local access cable TV channel, then known as Network 10. At the time of his death, Dr. Novak was still a member of the village's Network 6 cable TV commission.

In 2010, he moved to revitalize Riverside's Golden Agers club, changing its name to the Riverside Township Senior Citizens Society and continuing to host monthly meetings, which would include his blood-pressure clinic.

For his dedication to the community, Dr. Novak in October 2012 was named a Senior Citizen of the Year by U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski.

Dr. Novak is survived by his wife, Marjorie, five children and five grandchildren. Services have been held.

Email: buphues@wjinc.com Twitter: @RBLandmark

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E. Jay Van Cura, MD, MPH from Riverside  

Posted: January 1st, 2013 4:17 PM

Dr. Bob supported me in many ways. When I was a Family Practice resident at MacNeal hospital in 1973-4, he was involved in that medical residency. Recently, he has frequently requested my singing duo, Acappella Fellas, to perform for the Riverside Senior Citizens Society. As a supporter of family medicine, music, and our community, he was one of Riverside's finest! He was a pillar of our community..

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