Dr. David Savitz

Dr. David Savitz, age 80, died peacefully at home in Jamaica Plain on February 13 of esophageal cancer.

David was born on December 4, 1938, in New York, New York, to parents Abraham Savitz and Eva (Schwartz) Savitz, where he grew up playing stickball and punchball in Fort Tryon Park. He was the proud graduate of Bronx High School of Science (1954), Harvard College (1958), Harvard Medical School (1962), and Harvard School of Public Health (1969). As a young man, he was something of an old soul, leaving home and attending Harvard at the age of 15. Yet, he also possessed a youthful spirit and boundless interest and engagement with the world that never diminished, even in his mature years. After trying his hand at bench science, the NIH, and working in public health with underserved patient populations, he found his true calling as a primary care physician. Dr. Savitz loved his work, he loved his patients, and he served them with great passion and commitment for almost 50 years, often working long days until his retirement in 2015. As the medical profession became entangled in ever-growing regulatory and bureaucratic complications, he was known to remind his colleagues, “Just take good care of the patients, and the rest will sort itself out.” His many patients still miss him; there will never be another doctor as smart, kind, and committed as he. David also loved hearing and telling good, long jokes. So, it seems fitting to include a quotation from the great Henny Youngman, which also reflects David’s practical approach to his profession: “I told the doctor I broke my leg in two places. He told me to quit going to those places.”

David was a sports fan, especially of the Red Sox, and he was a font of sports trivia. He was also an old movie lover and could tell you the year, the actors, and the director of most any movie made before 1960. Classical ballet was a special passion; he was a season ticket holder to the Boston Ballet for over 40 years and enjoyed taking his daughters and granddaughters. He loved spending his free time reading, playing Scrabble, lounging on Martha’s Vineyard, debating current events (especially about the Middle East) and, most recently, traveling the world with his wife Libby.

He was married twice, first to his high-school sweetheart Dr. Roberta Apfel, with whom he had three children. That marriage ended in divorce. He later married Dr. Elisabeth Keller, with whom he had two children, and with whom he remained happily married for almost 39 years until his death. David will be lovingly remembered by his wife Libby Keller, his children Michael Savitz (Karin), Molly Savitz (Jeff Merkowitz), Celia Strauss (Adam), Paul Savitz, and Emma Savitz (Sam Crawford), and by his six grandchildren: Joel, Ezra, and Aviva Savitz; Kalman Strauss; and Daisy and Valerie Merkowitz. He is survived by his beloved sister Judith Sharenow (Arthur), and by numerous loving nieces, nephews, cousins, colleagues, and friends. His extraordinary kindness, intelligence, and empathy will live on in the memories of all who knew and loved him.

Funeral services will be held at Temple Israel of Boston on Sunday, February 17, at 10:30 AM with burial to follow at Sharon Memorial Park. The family will be receiving visitors at home at 12 Halifax Street, unit 1, Jamaica Plain MA 02130 on February 17, 6:30-8:30 PM, and February 18-19, 2-4 PM, and 6-8:30 PM. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in David’s name to Good Shepherd Community Care (90 Wells Ave, Newton MA) or to a charity of your choice. Expressions of love and sympathy may be viewed or placed at www.legacy.com.

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