Dr. Daniel Bakal, 74, helped establish oncology treatment program in 1960s

January 07, 2001|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Dr. Daniel Bakal, a retired Baltimore internist who helped establish an oncology treatment program for patients at what is now Northwest Medical Center died Wednesday at the Randallstown facility from a stroke. He was 74 and lived in Pikesville.

During his 33-year career as a physician that was brought to an end in 1989 by a stroke, Dr. Bakal had won the admiration of patients and colleagues alike.

"We met the first day in medical school at the University of Maryland and have been friends ever since," said Dr. Irving Kramer, a Baltimore pediatrician.

"After his stroke, he accepted his situation. He was not an angry person and managed to live a very viable existence. He couldn't practice medicine, but every Thursday morning I'd pick him up, and we would attend the medical conference at Sinai Hospital," Dr. Kramer said. "At these weekly meetings, Dr. Bakal could listen in on discussions of cases, treatments and learn about new drugs.

"He also liked getting the free pens that the pharmaceutical companies gave away, which he then gave to his grandchildren," he said, laughing.

Dr. Kramer described Dr. Bakal as a quiet, intellectual and compassionate man who was always interested in others and never looked at the negativism of life.

Until moving to work in a Pikesville office building in the late 1960s, Dr. Bakal maintained his practice in an office attached to the Lochearn home where he was then living. In addition to internal medicine, he developed an interest in helping treat patients suffering from tumors.

"He helped start the oncology treatment program in the 1960s at Baltimore County General Hospital [now Northwest Medical Center]. Earlier, oncology patients were confined in hospitals general wards," said Dr. Joseph Shear, a Baltimore internist.

"He was very, very dedicated to his patients, and they loved him," he said.

His professional memberships included the Baltimore City Medical Society and the Society of Internal Medicine.

Born in New York City, he moved with his parents in 1937 to Hampden, where his parents owned and operated Fannette, a 36th Street dress shop. His family lived above the store.

After graduating from City College in 1943, he enlisted in the Army and was sent to Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., to study engineering.

In 1944, he was sent to the European theater of operations, where he saw heavy combat at the Battle of the Bulge, Rhineland and Saarland while serving as the lead scout with the 358th Infantry of the 90th Division. His decorations included two Bronze Stars, and he was discharged at war's end with the rank of private.

"He had been set to become an engineer, but I think he decided to be a doctor after his experiences during the war. He was attracted to trying to save lives," said his daughter, Carol Van Besien of Lutherville.

Dr. Bakal earned his bachelor's degree from Loyola College in 1948. That was also the year in which he married the former Ruth Silver, who survives him.

He earned his medical degree from the University of Maryland Medical School in 1952, completed an internship in internal medicine at the old Sinai Hospital on East Monument Street and entered private practice in 1956.

"He had great stamina and determination and a will to enjoy life. He worked really hard to overcome the effects of his stroke. He never complained, and he lived a very satisfying life the last 12 years," Mrs. Van Besien said.

"He was a very disciplined person, whether it had to do with school, work or sports, and that discipline really paid off when he was faced with diabetes and the complications that come with that," she said.

He had enjoyed gardening and taking long cross-country camping trips with his family, visiting many national parks. He also was a world traveler and an avid reader.

He was a congregant and former member of the board of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.

Services were held Friday.

Along with his wife and daughter, he is survived by a son, Dr. Arthur E. Bakal, of Piedmont, Calif.; another daughter, Barbara N. Greene of Concord, Mass.; a sister, Ethel Katkow of Mount Washington; and six grandchildren.

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