Dr. Jerome Pleet, a retired obstetrician and gynecologist who delivered 15,000 babies, died of cancer June 7 at Milford Manor Nursing Home. He was 86 and had lived in Northwest Baltimore.
Born in Washington, D.C., he grew up in Baltimore on Whittier Avenue and was a 1939 City College graduate. He earned an education degree at what is now Towson University. Drafted into the Army during World War II, he was assigned to the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where he earned his degree. During the Korean War, he served at Fort Campbell in Kentucky and developed his specialty delivering the infants born to military families. He left service as a captain.
In 1955 he founded a private practice called Pleet-Frieman-Berkowitz. He had seven medical offices throughout the Baltimore area, including sites on Read Street and in Essex, Dundalk, Reisterstown and Woodlawn.
"He loved delivering babies," said his daughter, Marilyn Blank of Baltimore. She said her father practiced obstetrics for more than 30 years and in that time delivered more than 15,000 infants.
"He had a bedside manner that other physicians envied," said his son-in-law, Ira Blank. "But babies don't wait and he was always on call. We'd be having dinner and all of a sudden, he'd be gone."
Dr. Pleet wore out a number of Lincolns and Cadillacs that he drove to make deliveries. When snow was predicted, he parked his car on Cross Country Boulevard, which was a route that snowplows used, so he could get to Sinai Hospital quickly. He also saw patients at Lutheran, North Charles, Franklin Square and Church Home hospitals.
He told family members that he was only stopped by a police officer once when traveling to a delivery room. When the police officer pulled him over, and spotted his medical license plate, he immediately excused Dr. Pleet. The obstetrician had delivered the police officer's own child.
"He often delivered two generations in the same family," said his son-in-law.
Dr. Pleet was a sports fan and attended Orioles games at the old Memorial Stadium. He was occasionally summoned from his seat to deliver a baby. When his number — 407 — was announced on the public address system, he knew he had to leave the ballpark.
He and his wife sent birthday cards to all the children he delivered. The cards went out until the child turned 10.
Dr. Pleet was an avid duckpin bowler. He also achieved the rank of a bridge life master and competed in numerous bridge tournaments. He played golf at the Chestnut Ridge Country Club and followed thoroughbred racing at Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park. He was a founding member of the Baltimore Glass Club, an organization of antique glass collectors.
He was a Baltimore Hebrew Congregation member.
In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife of more than 65 years, the former Selma Loewner; a son, Dr. David Pleet of Springfield, Mass.; another daughter, Ruth Shapshay of Richmond, Mass.; a brother, Dr. Sylvan Pleet of Boca Raton, Fla.; 11 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. A daughter, Shalom "Penny" VeGodsky, died in 2004.
Services were held June 9.
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