Inspiring the Valley: Fresno’s first African-American surgeon reflects on his life, career

Inspiring the Valley

​Just one more honor for the man you could call a living legend, but he would be quick to correct you.

“Because I know darn well I’m not a legend,” says Dr. Fitzalbert Marius, a surgeon and motivational speaker.

He says, “I’m just another human being and probably the only difference between me and some of them is how much I’m utilizing my talents.”

Marius has many talents, he is an artist and he is a skilled tailor, a trade he learned starting at the age of seven, which he says all helped to become the surgeon he is now.

Marius, now 96-years-old was the first African-American surgeon in Fresno, also the first to preform open heart surgery in Fresno

“During the time, it never crossed my mind, I never thought about that,” he says. “I’m a surgeon that performs the best cotton picking surgery I can perform.”

That attitude, be the best you can be no matter what you do, was instilled in him by his parents.

Growing up in Harlem, New York in the 1930s, you did not let hardships or racism stop you, he says.

“We kept our eye on the purpose that we were trying to achieve and how to work around the obstructions and trials and tribulations,” Marius explains.

A message of perseverance is something Marius takes to young people as often as he can.

He says, “And remember this young people, you can not move forward if you don’t take the first step.”

This World War II veteran, says it’s important to nurture others. “To influence someone, to behave is important because they will be those who nurture the other people in the future. They will be the ones who run the United States of America.”

The knowledge he has about life, history makes him a valuable teacher, and we would be wise to listen.

“And I thank the lord constantly, thank you lord for using inefficient me to further your basic fundamental principal that we are one people,” he says.

Marius will celebrate his ninety-seventh birthday next month and has no plans to slow down.

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