Harold S. Farfel

[Age 82] The longtime area pediatrician took pride in making house calls and admitted first black baby to Sinai Hospital.

October 14, 2007|By Gina Davis | Gina Davis,SUN REPORTER

Dr. Harold Seymour Farfel, a pediatrician, died yesterday of pancreatic cancer at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Towson. He was 82.

A doctor who prided himself on making house calls, Dr. Farfel continued until his recent illness to attend pediatric rounds at Sinai Hospital, where he was a resident from 1950 to 1952.

One of the patients at his practice in Catonsville, which he opened in 1955, was a boy who would grow up to be governor, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., said Dr. Farfel's son, Dr. Mark Farfel of New York City.

But one of the proudest moments in his father's medical career occurred during his residency at Sinai.

"He admitted the first black baby to Sinai, which was against the hospital's policy at that time, as was the prevailing practice at the time," Mark Farfel said. "No other hospital nearby had room, and he insisted Sinai take the baby."

Soon afterward, Sinai changed its policy, Mark Farfel said.

Born and raised in Portsmouth, Va., Dr. Farfel graduated in 1941 from Woodrow Wilson High School. He attended Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., from 1941 until 1944, when he was drafted into the Army.

During the summer of 1944, he was stationed at Fort Meade, where he worked in the psychiatric unit. Later that year, he was honorably discharged and attended medical school under the GI Bill of Rights.

In 1947, Dr. Farfel married the former Mary Blanche Hiller in Lynchburg, Va. The couple celebrated their 60th anniversary in August.

Dr. Farfel earned his medical degree in 1948 from the University of Virginia School of Medicine. The Farfels then moved to Pennsylvania for his internship at what is now the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. During the Korean War, he enlisted in the Air Force. He was stationed in Harlingen, Texas, where he was a pediatrician on base. He was honorably discharged in 1954 as a captain.

The Farfels returned to Baltimore, where Dr. Farfel completed clinical training at Sinai before opening his pediatric practice. His practice included pediatric clinics in the city, which he continued after he closed his office in 1988, his son said.

Dr. Farfel worked as a medical reviewer for the Social Security Administration's disability determination program from 1988 until 2004, when he retired. He then devoted himself to his family and Jewish studies, his son said.

Dr. Farfel served on the Board of Jewish Education and was an active member of Chevrei Tzedek congregation in Baltimore.

Funeral services are scheduled for 1 p.m. today at Sol Levinson & Bros. Funeral Home, 8900 Reisterstown Road in Pikesville.

In addition to his wife and son, Dr. Farfel is survived by another son, Dr. Phillip Farfel of Baltimore; a daughter, Elise Farfel Wolf of San Jose, Calif.; a brother, Jack Farfel of Boynton Beach, Fla.; and five granddaughters.

gina.davis@baltsun.com

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