August 24, 2020
GELFAND – Samuel M. M.D., passed away peacefully on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at his home in Brentwood, Tennessee. He was 98 years old, having an incredible life filled with a loving family, countless awards, recognitions, and professional achievements. Most important to Sam Gelfand though, was his family. He and his wife Gloria (nee Esterbrook) recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Sam Gelfand’s priority was to attend and support his children and grandchildren at their numerous sporting events, plays, graduations, and Grandparent’s days, which brought him the most joy.Growing up in New York City and the Bronx, with his parents Morris and Mary Gelfand, and brothers Phillip and Bertram, Sam Gelfand had a love of sports. He became an avid fan of the New York Knicks and New York Yankees. He graduated in 1943 from The City College of New York, where he played on the basketball team coached by Nat Holman, along with teammates and lifelong friends, future New York Knicks coach, Red Holtzman and Knicks and Celtics star, Sonny Hertzberg. Dr. Gelfand graduated in 1947 from The Chicago Medical School, from which he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1988. He completed his surgical training at Georgetown and George Washington University under Brian Blades, M.D and Charles A. Hufnagel, M.D.
From 1951-1953 he served our Nation as a Captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, as a surgeon at the famed 8055th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Korea, which became the basis for the movie and television series M*A*S*H. WWII flying ace, Korean War helicopter pilot, author, and friend Richard C. Kirkland, who also served at the 8055th MASH unit, wrote in his books, that Sam Gelfand was one of the inspirations for the fictional character, Hawkeye Pierce.Dr. Gelfand was appointed Chief of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at South Nassau Communities Hospital in 1964, a role he served in for many years. In addition, he was an attending physician at Mercy Hospital, Mid-Island Hospital, Nassau County Medical Center and Stonybrook University Medical Center, among others.Dr. Gelfand was very active in numerous professional medical societies and in community service. Among many other committees and organizations, he was President of the Nassau County Medical Society, President of the New York State Medical Society, Chairman Emeritus of the American Medical Association Political Action Committee, a New York State Delegate to the AMA, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the New York Medical Political Action Committee, and was a long-serving member of the Nassau County Board of Health. Dr. Gelfand received numerous awards during his professional career recognizing his surgical skill and service to his profession, including a 1988 New York State Governor’s Citation for Meritorious Service to the Medical Profession and the Citizens of New York, numerous official recognitions from the NY State Senate and Nassau County Leadership, and the 2009 Lifetime Distinguished Service Award from the New York State Medical Society. Beyond medicine, Sam Gelfand was Commissioner of Rockville Centre Boys Basketball League from 1974-1976 and coached and managed both Little League baseball and basketball teams for many years. He is survived by his wife Gloria, his brother Bert, sister-law Marilyn, four children, Brian, David, Elizabeth and Matthew, their spouses, Jen, Kathy, Jack and Laura, and eight grandchildren, Robert, Charlotte, Thomas, Megan, Erin, James, Connor and Christopher, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and their children.
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Published in Newsday on Aug. 16, 2020.