David Josephs

'Old School' Pediatrician Practiced In Suburban Baltimore, Dispensing Wisdom 'Not Found In Medical Books'

July 26, 2009|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

David Josephs, a retired pediatrician who practiced in suburban Baltimore for nearly 50 years, died of cancer July 18 at his Pikesville home. He was 84.

"He dispensed wisdom not found in medical books," said Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg of the Beth Tfiloh Congregation. "He was old school, a straight arrow who always walked on the proper path. He healed his children in body and soul."

Born in Sanford, N.C., he earned degrees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at the Medical College of Virginia. He was an Army medical corps officer during the Korean War and treated children whose parents lived at the Fort Campbell, Ky., Army base.

He moved to Baltimore to be near extended family members, and while doing his internship at Sinai Hospital, he met his future wife, who was a laboratory technician.

He established a practice on Loch Raven Boulevard, and later on Joppa Road, and attracted many families throughout Baynesville, Towson and Timonium.

"His waiting room was always filled, and he kept a figure of Pinocchio filled with lollipops," said his daughter, M. Susan Sless of Baltimore.

She said that her father practiced for almost 50 years and set aside an hour each morning, beginning at 8 a.m., when he took phone calls from parents. Based on what he heard, he assigned his patients office visits or made a house call.

"He loved convertibles and drove all over Northeast Baltimore to see his patients," his daughter said. "He had a Buick Skylark and a Rambler, among other vehicles."

Patients recalled Dr. Josephs as a no-nonsense physician who spoke in a direct manner to them or their parents.

"He could be stern, but in his own way, he was very kind and compassionate," said Tina Cricchio DeFranco, an owner of Caesar's Den restaurant, who was one of his first patients. "Something about him was endearing, and when I had my own children, there was no question who would be their pediatrician."

Dr. Josephs was also a former chief of the pediatrics staff at St. Joseph Medical Center.

Dr. Josephs was active in the Jewish community and attended daily services at Beth Tfiloh Congregation.

"I took his opinions seriously," said Rabbi Wohlberg in a eulogy he delivered Monday at funeral services. "He could be rigid and opinionated ... but we were all enriched by his presence."

Dr. Josephs was a past brotherhood president at the Beth Jacob Congregation, where he also had headed the PTA. He received awards from the congregation for his work in education in 1974 and again in 1982. He was also a past president of the Baltimore Board of Jewish Education.

He joined Beth Tfiloh in 1974 while retaining his Beth Jacob membership.

Dr. Josephs enjoyed flying kites with his grandchildren and fishing on the Chesapeake Bay.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include two sons, Dr. Shelby H. Josephs of Rockville and Dr. Barry Josephs of Baltimore; a sister, Leila Mazaroff of Baltimore; and seven grandchildren. His wife of 49 years, the former Annette Reiter, died in 1998.

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