South Lake Tahoe is mourning the loss of Dr. Stephen Bannar, a beloved orthopedic surgeon and pillar in the local community for two decades. Bannar was found dead Thursday morning. No further details were made available.
“It is with a heavy heart I share with you that Dr. Stephen Bannar passed away this morning,” Dr. Clint Purvance, President/CEO of Barton Health announced to employees Thursday.”
Dr. Bannar, an avid snowboarder, skier, hiker, and climber, was a beloved and respected member of Barton Health’s medical staff whose orthopedic practice helped thousands of patients in the South Tahoe region over the years and was a USA Ski and Snowboard doctor as well. Many in South Lake Tahoe can thank Dr. Bannar for their replaced knees and hips and are walking today due to his skills. The announcement of Bannar’s death sparked an outpouring of grief from friends and patients who described a dedicated and caring physician.
Local resident, Todd Offenbacher, was lucky enough to call Stephen a friend:
“Dr. Bannar was a friend. He gave more to our community of himself than anyone I’ve ever known. It’s a loss than cannot be put in words”
South Lake Tahoe Mayor Brooke Laine made the following statement for the City:
On behalf of myself, city council, and city staff we’d like to offer our deepest condolences to the family of Dr. Stephen Bannar. Dr. Bannar was an integral part of this community. As a doctor, and a community member he was as well regarded as they come. He gave more than 20 years to the people of South Lake Tahoe. He helped people get well and made the community better in the process. It wasn’t just here though; Dr. Bannar took his exceptional skills across the globe working with non-profits, like Doctors Without Borders, to give back to those in need. He made an incredible investment in this community, one that continues with his wife Barbara and his beautiful children. For that, we are eternally grateful. Our thoughts and prayers are with Barbara and their two children during this difficult time.
In 2010 he made his third volunteer trip overseas to help provide medical care to underdeveloped nations, the Tahoe Daily Tribune reported. The volunteer work, he said, was an opportunity to be a positive representative for the US, while also giving back to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
“The United States gets a lot of flack from across the world. This is a great way to be a good ambassador … for others to see that we are not what we are depicted as in the papers. It is very rewarding and in reality, it forces you to be a better doctor — that’s why I do it,” he said. “To see the people so happy that you are there to help. They welcomed us with open arms.”
More recently, Bannar pioneered Barton Health’s Community Wellness Outings, nature-based experiences for medical patients on National Forest lands. The program was recently selected as a finalist for the 2018 SHIFT (Shaping How we Invest For Tomorrow) award for Public Land Management Innovation.
“We need to change our mindset from treating disease to promoting wellness,” Bannar told the Tribune in 2017. “A prescription for nature can enable accessibility for at-risk groups as well as preventive medicine for other members of the community.”
Bannar is survived by his wife Barbara, son Brandon and daughter Alison. At this time no memorial service has been set.