Ira Gelb, a Boca Raton leader and highly regarded physician, died last week. Much beloved and active in the community, Ira was kind, generous and immensely popular. The New York Times published a lengthy obituary that is available via Legacy.com, excerpts of which can be read below:
“Dr. Ira J. Gelb passed away on September 14, survived by his adoring wife of 49 years, June. He is also survived by his children Lee, Edward and Amy, grandchildren Max Lancaster, Samuel Gelb, and Rebecca Gelb, stepson Austin Brown, and step-granddaughter Kimberly Brown. Ira was 92.
“Dr. Ira J. Gelb was born in Queens, NY in January, 1928. At five, Ira made rounds in the Bronx with his Uncle Max, carrying the iconic black medical bag, planting the seed for his future. By 1939, Ira’s mother and father moved the family to Swampscott, Massachusetts, in search of work and a better life on the North Shore, 15 minutes from metro-Boston. This was also the beginning of his lifelong love of the Boston Red Sox.
“After middle school, the Gelbs returned to Queens, where Ira graduated at 16 as Valedictorian from Flushing High School with the highest GPA in school history. Ira enrolled as one of the pioneering premed students at New York University. By 1945, Dr. Gelb was a Junior at NYU. By 1951, Ira J. Gelb, MD graduated, and was an intern at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn. But duty and service to his country called, and in 1953, Dr. Gelb was a First Lieutenant in the US Army Medical Corps, where he was stationed in Germany.
“In 1955, Dr. Gelb received a Commendation Ribbon with a medal pendant for Meritorious Service from his Colonel. Forgoing a promotion, Dr. Gelb moved to Colorado for his residency at the University of Colorado Medical Center. Back to New York, Dr. Gelb became the Dr. Masters NIH Fellow in Cardiology at The Mount Sinai Hospital. Dr. Gelb soon became a renowned Cardiologist, practicing at both New Rochelle Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital. He also worked in Israel every summer in the 1950s at Sheba Medical Center, alongside icons of Israel’s early statehood, including Henry Neufeld, Chief Scientist of Israel.
“In 1970, June and Ira were married in New Rochelle, New York. They recently renewed their vows in Budapest, after 49 years of marriage. For over 35 years, Dr. Ira J. Gelb was an accomplished Cardiologist. He was Assistant Editor of the American Journal of Cardiology and JACC, the number one cardiology journal in the world.
“Then, in 1992, Ira had a quadruple by-pass and was no longer able to practice medicine. He and June moved to Boca Raton, Florida. Ira joined the Continuing Science faculty at FAU in 1993, with only 16 students and four courses. By 1994, FAU had 100 students enrolled as pre-medical students. Thanks to the support of the community and FAU, a satellite campus for the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine was established at FAU. By 1998, Dr. Gelb was leading the Miller School of Medicine at FAU.
“In 2003, the Florida Legislature approved appropriations to build a biomedical science program and by 2011, FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine was established. That year, FAU welcomed an inaugural class of 64 students. With thousands of applicants each year to the medical school, Dr. Gelb helped to accept the lucky few to be admitted. He remained a student advisor and lived a life to transform young lives.
“Hundreds of Ira’s friends celebrated his 90th on the FAU Boca campus in January, 2018. He is an icon at FAU, a paragon of citizenry in Boca Raton, and a man with many friends who love him, and colleagues who respect and admire him. He served our country and as a renowned cardiologist, he saved lives. He will be dearly missed.
“Memorial contributions in Ira’s honor can be made to the June and Ira J. Gelb, M.D. Endowed Scholarship Fund online at https://fauf.fau.edu/, or by mail: ATTN David Green, FAU Schmidt College of Medicine, 777 Glades Road, BC-71, Boca Raton, FL 33431, 561-297-4243. In a few months, after the pandemic, there will be a Celebration of Life for Dr. Ira Gelb at Florida Atlantic University.”