Tony M. Wong, Ph.D., Dedicated Neuropsychologist, Educator and Researcher, Dies at 55

Apr. 27, 2011

Tony M. Wong, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Rochester Medical Center and director of Neuropsychology at Unity Health System, died unexpectedly April 23. He was 55.

A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 30, at Rochester Chinese Christian Church, 1524 Jackson Road, Penfield. Friends are invited to call from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at Miller Funeral Homes, 3325 Winton Road S.Dr. Wong’s dedication as a clinician, researcher and teacher will be remembered always by his patients, colleagues and students, said K. Rao Poduri, M.D., chair of URMC Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

“We have lost a valuable member of our faculty with his untimely death,” Poduri said. “Dr. Wong’s contributions as a faculty member touched not only our faculty, residents and medical students, but also the patients and the entire rehabilitation team at Strong Memorial Hospital.”

“He was always there for staff when they faced challenges with difficult cases, as this was his area of expertise,” she said. “He facilitated several departmental retreats to educate, counsel and problem-solve. His educational and research contributions over the years were exemplary. The faculty, residents and staff join me in sending condolences to his family. He will be greatly missed.”

Dr. Wong was nationally known in the specialty of cross-cultural neuropsychology and sports concussion. He served as director of Neuropsychology at Unityfor two decades, during which he touched the lives of countless patients, faculty and staff members.

“This is both a personal and professional loss,” said Mary L. Dombovy, M.D., chair of the Department of Rehabilitation and Neurology at Unity. “We will remember him as a person of incredible integrity. He always had his door open and could never say no to anyone. He was always willing to help with clinical issues, and personal issues, as well.”

As testament to his strong professional relationships with colleagues from around the world, several professors from China who were in the United States this month to give lectures at Harvard and Northwestern, at Dr. Wong’s invitation, agreed to visit Unity to present to staff.Born in 1955, Dr. Wong was raised in Los Angeles, the son of Don Kwok and Sim Kuen Ma Wong. He attended Dorsey High School, followed by nine years as at the University of Southern California where he earned his B.S., M.A. and Ph.D. He taught for seven years at Biola University, simultaneously completing his postgraduate training in clinical psychology at the Rosemead School of Psychology of Biola University. He spent his sabbatical year as a post-doctoral fellow in clinical neuropsychology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, from 1987-88, after which he returned to California to practice, becoming board certified by the American Board of Professional Psychology as a clinical neuropsychologist.

He returned to Rochester in 1991 and became a member of the faculty of the University of Rochester Medical Center. He was essential in the education of medical residents, teaching lecture series and participating in grand rounds. His research and clinical interests included mild head injury/post concussive syndrome, sports-related concussion, brain injury, neuropsychological assessment, and cross-cultural factors in neuropsychological assessment and intervention.Dr. Wong loved to travel with his family, taking them all over the U.S. and more recently to China and Hong Kong. According to his family, his love of travel was enhanced by his love of eating good food and later attempting to prepare it. He also was a diehard USC Trojan football and basketball fan. His daughter attended his alma mater and joined the USC Trojan Marching Band, giving Dr. Wong additional incentive to travel to the university.

Along with his devotion to work and family, Dr. Wong was a dedicated lay preacher, insightful Sunday school teacher, and formerly a leader in the L.A. First Chinese Baptist Church. For the last 20 years, he has been a faithful parishioner at the Rochester Chinese Christian Church.

He is survived by his wife, Lois; children, Erin and Colin; his mother, Sim Kuen Ma Wong; and two brothers, Ron (Violet) and Benson Wong. He was predeceased by his father, Don Kwok Wong.