Dr. Harold Sussman, 81, longtime surgeon at city's Sinai Hospital

April 08, 2005|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Dr. Harold Sussman, a retired Baltimore surgeon whose career at Sinai Hospital spanned nearly a half-century, died from stroke complications there Tuesday. The Pikesville resident was 81.

Dr. Sussman was born in Baltimore and raised on Bryant Avenue. He was the son of Jacob Sussman, co-owner with Carl Lev of Sussman and Lev's Delicatessen in the 900 block of E. Baltimore St., and he worked in the business during his high school and undergraduate years.

"While working there, he learned how to be a surgeon while cutting up turkeys and putting them back together again," said a daughter, Amy S. Scherr of Mount Washington.

He was a 1940 graduate of City College and earned his bachelor's degree in 1943 from the Johns Hopkins University.

After graduating in 1947 from the University of Maryland Medical School, he began a surgical residency at Sinai Hospital - then on East Monument Street - that was interrupted by the Korean War.

Entering the Army in 1951, Dr. Sussman was deployed to Korea and served with a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital - or MASH unit - at the front as a combat surgeon. He earned a Bronze Star.

During his subsequent career at Sinai, he was an attending general surgeon and served as chief of emergency services for five years until retiring in 1993. Dr. Sussman also had been president of the hospital's medical staff and on various committees.

He maintained a private surgical practice, with offices in the Marlborough Apartments and later in the Uptown Federal Savings & Loan Association Building on Reisterstown Road.

"He was honest, dedicated and a gentle man to his patients, who worshipped him," said Dr. Gershon Efron, a former chief of surgery at Sinai.

"He was one of the kindest fellows in the world, and everyone at the hospital from nurses to medical students to the front desk clerks called him Uncle Harold," Dr. Efron said. "He reached a good age and had done in life all the things he wanted to do."

Dr. B. Stanley Cohen, retired president of Sinai Hospital and former chief of its rehabilitation department, had known Dr. Sussman since their days together at medical school.

"He was a super physician of the old school who worried about his patients," Dr. Cohen said. "He was as devoted to them as his family and there wasn't an ounce of malice in him. Whenever I referred patients to him, they would inevitably come back and thank me."

Dr. Sussman also was a former assistant professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

He enjoyed scuba diving, attending or listening to radio broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera Company, and for years he was an Orioles season ticket-holder. He had been president of the Chatham Club, a 59-year-old social group, and was a member of Beth El Congregation.

Services were Wednesday.

Surviving, in addition to his daughter, are his wife of 59 years, the former Belle Awerbuch; a son, Jason H. Sussman of Chicago; another daughter, Diane S. LaSoy of Glyndon; a brother, Charles Sussman of Pikesville; and eight grandchildren.

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