Dr. Boris L. “Bo” O’Mansky, a retired Baltimore pediatrician who had been president of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, died Thursday of complications from Parkinson’s disease at his Pikesville home.
He was 84.
“Before I came to Baltimore Hebrew a decade ago, people from all over told me Bo O’Mansky was a person I had to meet. He was already suffering from Parkinson’s disease,” said Rabbi Andrew J. Busch. “He was intelligent, honest, and had a fabulous sense of humor until the end.”
Boris Louis O’Mansky was born in Greensboro, N.C., the son of Maurice O’Mansky, a clothing merchant, and Grace O’Mansky, a homemaker, and raised in Leaksville, N.C.
Dr. O’Mansky was a graduate of Fishburne Military Academy in Waynesboro, Va., and attended Duke University from 1950 to 1953. He then entered Duke University School of Medicine, graduating in 1957.
“He used to say he wasn’t sure he if he ever earned a bachelor’s degree because he entered medical school after three years as a Duke undergraduate,” said Andrew Barron, his son-in-law, who lives in Durham, N.C.
Dr. O’Mansky completed an internship in 1958 at Bronx Municipal Hospital Center in Bronx, N.Y., and his residency in pediatrics at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore.
He was chief resident in pediatrics at Sinai from 1960 to 1961, when he entered the Air Force. He then served as chief of pediatrics at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Ga., from 1961 to 1963, when he was discharged with the rank of captain.
In 1961, he married Marlyn Saslaw, a registered nurse.
Dr. O’Mansky returned to Baltimore, where he established a private pediatric practice on Northern Parkway. He later relocated his practice to the Woodholme Medical Building in Pikesville.
In 1979, Baltimore Magazine named Dr. O’Mansky the area’s top pediatrician, family members said.
Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease more than 30 years ago, Dr. O’Mansky retired from practice in 1999.
He was a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatrics and had been a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He was also a member of the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland and was a member of the Baltimore City Medical Society.
“My granddaughter was baby-sitting at a house that was not far from Bo’s when there was a power outage. There she was sitting in a hot house without lights or air conditioning,” said Gerri Kobren, a longtime Baltimore Sun feature writer and a Baltimore Hebrew congregant.
“I saw Bo at synagogue, who was in a wheelchair from Parkinson’s, and asked him if he had power,” Ms. Kobren said. “He replied, ‘I have some power in my arms but not in my legs.’ I thought it was an interesting way of looking at paralysis.”
Dr. O’Mansky’s Jewish faith defined his life.
He was a longtime active member of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, where he was a member of its Board of Electors from 1973 to 1975, serving as vice president from 1975 to 1977. From 1977 to 1978, he was first vice president of the board, and served as president from 1978 to 1980.
From 1974 to 1976, he also served as president of the congregation’s Parents Association. He was the congregation’s representative to the Baltimore Board of Jewish Education from 1974 to 1976, and was board secretary from 1976 to 1978. He later chaired the board’s education committee from 1981 to 1983.
Dr. O’Mansky also held numerous positions with the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and had served as president of its Mid-Atlantic Council.
He was chairman of UAHC’s Committee on AIDS from 1985 to 1989, and remained a member of the committee for another decade. From 1989 to 1994, he was a member of the group’s board of trustees.
“This was at a time that was early in the AIDS movement, and he wanted to help those suffering from AIDs and their families,” Rabbi Busch said.
Dr. O’Mansky’s efforts brought the UAHC’s convention to Baltimore in 1991.
“Bo led that charge that resulted in the convention coming to Baltimore, and it was the first time that more than 4,000 Reformed congregational representatives attended it,” Rabbi Busch said.
Dr. O’Mansky’s work on behalf of Reformed Judaism earned him local and national praise. In 2008, he was named an honorary lifetime member of the board of the Union of Reformed Judaism.
“Bo was a powerful leader, soft-spoken and a good listener,” Rabbi Busch said.
“He and Marlyn were both so open-hearted, and they gave large seders for enormous amounts of people,” Ms. Kobren said.
As his Parkinson’s progressed, his wife kept him engaged.
“It was Marlyn who kept him going and involved in things. She purchased a wheelchair-accessible van and would bring him to services,” Ms. Kobren said. “They founded the Dr. Bo Study Group, which was held in their home every four to six weeks. It was a Bible study group.”
After Dr. O’Mansky retired, he studied composition at the Peabody Conservatory. He also played the piano, liked listening to classical music and was a fan of Broadway musicals.
He enjoyed attending concerts of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and shows at Center Stage. He also was a sports fan.
Funeral services were held Sunday at his synagogue.
In addition to his wife and son-in-law, Dr. O’Mansky is survived by two sons, Marc O’Mansky of Boston and Matt O’Mansky of Youngstown, Ohio; a daughter, Karen O’Mansky of Durham, N.C.; a brother, Dr. Samuel O’Mansky of Fairfax, Va.; and two grandchildren.