Roberto Rendón, 88, of Chalfont, an Abington pediatric neurologist and the honorary consul of Guatemala in Philadelphia for four decades, died Thursday, Feb. 27, of heart failure at Hidden Meadows on the Ridge in Sellersville.
Dr. Rendón was born in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, in 1931. His father, Francisco Rendón Cervantes, was a Supreme Court justice, and his mother, Olga Maldonado Castillo, a music teacher.
As a grammar school student in Guatemala, Dr. Rendón learned from textbooks but also from living in a small village. He built his own desk at the start of each school year, he told his family.
At age 15, he enrolled in medical school at the University of San Carlos in Guatemala. He taught himself English, German, and French so he could read the most current textbooks. He completed his medical degree, and at age 22 took charge of the local hospital in the rural port town of Puerto Barrios, Guatemala.
As the only physician for miles around, Dr. Rendón did all kinds of medical procedures, from performing surgery to delivering babies. He also boarded ships to certify them safe for docking.
In the early 1960s, Dr. Rendón founded the Neurological Institute of Guatemala, which cares for children with neurological disorders.
On weekends, he took his family to remote villages, where he treated those unable to visit a physician.
“He befriended many he met at the villages, and on stops along the way, through the simple gesture of offering a ride and conversation during the ride back to the city,” his family said in a statement.
Dr. Rendón’s interest in pediatrics and neurology led him to the University of Michigan Medical School, in Ann Arbor, where he completed residencies in pediatrics and pediatric neurology.
While there, Dr. Rendón met and married Joanne Cavanaugh. After completing his medical training in Ann Arbor, the couple moved to Guatemala, where they raised four children. In the late 1960s, they moved to Elkins Park.
Dr. Rendón was medical director of the Woods School in Langhorne, then practiced neurology at Abington Memorial Hospital for 35 years until 2006. He was an assistant professor of neurology at Thomas Jefferson Medical School.
Dr. Rendón maintained strong ties to his homeland by serving four decades as the honorary consul of Guatemala in Philadelphia and as a member in the Consular Corps Association of Philadelphia. As honorary consul, he supported Guatemalan immigrants.
With the aid of the Rotary Club of Jenkintown, Dr. Rendón gathered donated medical equipment and sent the supplies to areas of Guatemala where they were needed. In return, the Guatemalan government awarded him the Order of Monja Blanca Medal, named for a white orchid, the national flower.
Dr. Rendón and his first wife divorced. In 1985, he married Deborah Halliday.
In retirement, Dr. Rendón and his second wife moved to a small farm in Bucks County, where they bred Babydoll Southdown sheep and tended horses, mules, dogs, cats, and chickens. They rode horseback and enjoyed carriage driving.
The miniature sheep, which sometimes entered the house, were favorites of Dr. Rendón’s. “I’d say, ‘Hold this lamb for me,’ and I’d come back and the two of them would be asleep,” Deborah Rendón said.
Dr. Rendón studied calligraphy and wood turning, building frames for artwork and custom signs, as well as a chapel on the farm grounds that served as a retreat. During the summer, he enjoyed the company of his grandchildren while performing farm chores.
Besides his wife, he is survived by children Catherine, Patrick, Mary Jo, Maria, and Susana; seven grandchildren; and his first wife. A brother and sister died earlier.
Plans for a memorial are on hold until concern over the COVID-19 coronavirus fades. The service details will be posted on www.fitzpatrickabington.com.